- By Dr. Doug Rokke Former U.S. Army's DU Team Health Physicist
Former U.S. Army's DU Project Director
- By George Angus Parker Formerly Sgt with the 1st Field
Laboratory Unit, Biological-Warfare Detection Unit. Porton Down, Great
- Part 1: Dr. Rokke's comments
- The leaders of the United States and Great Britain are
considering a preemptive military attack against Iraq. Consequently, the
potential use of military force requires the careful evaluation of the
health and environmental impact of any weapon system that may be employed
by U.S. or British forces in their attempts to achieve their military objectives.
Consequently, I must issue a warning against the deliberate use of any
munitions containing depleted uranium. Depleted uranium munitions (DU)
have been used effectively in combat since 1973. Their destructive capabilities
are absolutely superior to any other known munitions that can be fired
by tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft, and rifles. In addition the ADAM
and PDM, which are land mines, are essentially conventional explosives
wrapped in shell containing uranium or a "dirty bomb". Although
DU munitions are an excellent weapon, they leave a path of death, illness,
and environmental contamination. The radiological and chemical toxicity
are due to uranium, plutonium, neptunium, and americium isotopes within
each DU bullet. We also have all of the inherent contamination from the
equipment, terrain, and facilities that were destroyed.
- Upon the completion of the ground combat phase of the
Gulf war, I was assigned by Headquarters Department of the Army and consequently
the U.S. Central Command to clean up the depleted uranium contaminated
U.S. equipment and provide initial medical recommendations for all individuals
who were or may have been exposed as a consequence of military actions.
Our initial observations of the DU contamination can be summed simply by
three words "OH MY GOD!" Although my mission was limited to U.S.
personnel and equipment all affected persons and equipment should have
been processed identically. They were not! Although I and U.S. Army physicians
assigned to the 3rd U.S. Army Medical Command issued immediate verbal and
written medical care recommendations those still have not been complied
with for not only all U.S. and coalition military DU casualties but for
Iraqi military personnel and especially noncombatants, women and children,
who were exposed to DU munitions contamination.
- A United States Defense Nuclear Agency memorandum written
by LTC Lyle that was sent to our team in Saudi Arabia during March 1990
stated that quote "As Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), ground combat
units, and civil populations of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq come increasingly
into contact with DU ordnance, we must prepare to deal with potential problems.
Toxic war souvenirs, political furor, and post conflict clean up (host
nation agreement) are only some of the issues that must be addressed. Alpha
particles (uranium oxide dust) from expended rounds is a health concern
but, Beta particles from fragments and intact rounds is a serious health
threat, with possible exposure rates of 200 millirads per hour on contact."
- It took our team from March 1991 to June 1991 to collect
and prepare 30 U.S. vehicles that were damaged or destroyed during friendly
fire incidents involving DU munitions for burial or shipment to a specialized
facility in South Carolina for decontamination and disposal. Thousands
of other DU contaminated pieces of equipment, bunkers, and terrain were
just ignored. The approximate 1 million individual DU rounds and submunitions
that were used by United States and British forces were never cleaned up
but left where they fell. During January 1993 following analysis of our
written reports and personal discussions, scientists and physicians assigned
to the United States General Accounting Office issued a report ("Operation
Desert Storm: Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium
Contamination", GAO/NSAID-93-90, January 1993, page 7) recommending
that the Secretary of the Army quote:
- 1. ensure that appropriate Army training schools provide
adequate information and training to personnel who would come in contact
with DU contaminated equipment,
- 2. develop time frames to implement the proposed DU testing
policy involving the testing of all crew members inside vehicles penetrated
by DU munitions,
- 3. expand testing to include personnel involved in the
vehicle recovery process should testing of the Army National Guard personnel
show that uranium is present in excess of the standards being applied in
the medical tests, and 4. develop a formal plan for dealing with the recovery
of DU-contaminated equipment.
- At approximately the same time that this report was being
prepared, the United States Army's Environmental Policy Institute, AEPI,
was tasked (December 13, 1992) by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the
Army for Environment, Safety, and Occupational health to determine (quote):
- 1. The health and environmental consequences of using
DU on the battlefield.
- 2. Which remediation technologies exist or might be developed
to clean up DU contamination.
- 3. Ways to reduce DU toxicity.
- 4. How to best protect the environment from the long-term
consequences of DU use.
- Therefore it was and still is obvious that United States
military leaders knew that using DU would cause health and environmental
problems. I was asked to help conduct the research and prepare the recommendations
and final AEPI report because I was the Army health physicist who helped
clean up the DU mess following Desert Storm and was working for the Army
preparing environmental compliance procedures. The findings issued in 1995
(Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the Army:
Technical Report, U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute, June 1995)
- 1. The battlefield is contaminated with many dangerous
things. The impact of DU contamination on the battlefield is not well defined.
Relative to many of the other hazards, such as unexploded ordnance. The
hazards are probably small; however, additional environmental modeling
and data are needed to support this judgment.
- 2. DU remediation technologies involve one or more of
the following: excavation and earth moving, physical separation, chemical
separation, and in-place stabilization. The Army will continue to identify
and evaluate remediation technologies by comparing the cost and effectiveness.
From this analysis, the Army will seek effective, less expensive DU remediation
- 3. There are no technologies available that can significantly
change the inherent chemical and radiological toxicity of DU.
- 4. Range management and DU recovery systems have been
implemented and are being improved. Models to better describe the environmental
fate and effect are being developed. DU migration on test ranges in the
United States has been minimal because soil and water conditions on those
test ranges tend to prevent formation of soluable DU.
- Once more we can see that Army officials acknowledged
that DU is toxic forever and that specific remediation procedures are required
to clean up DU contamination. I then developed and verified these procedures
while the DU Project Director.
- Consequently, in response to the GAO report, initial
reports submitted by AEPI scientists, and my/our efforts the United States
Deputy Secretary of Defense issued an order that was consequently reissued
on August 14, 1993 and signed by General Eric Shinseki that DOD shall:
- "1. Provide adequate training for personnel who
may come in contact with depleted uranium equipment.
- 2. Complete medical testing of personnel exposed to DU
contamination during the Persian Gulf War.
- 3. Develop a plan for DU contaminated equipment recovery
during future operations."
- The criteria describing unusual DU exposures requiring
medical screening within 24 hours of exposure and consequent medical care
were specified in a message from Headquarters Department of the Army dated
October 14, 1993. These exposures included:
- a. Being in the midst of smoke from DU fires resulting
from the burning of vehicles uploaded with DU munitions or depots in which
DU munitions are being stored.
- b. Working within environments containing DU dust or
residues from DU fires.
- c. Being within a structure or vehicle while it is struck
by DU munitions."
- Today, at least one decade after thousands and maybe
millions of individuals were exposed to DU contamination and who should
have received medical care per our original 1991 recommendations and as
specified in the October 14, 1993 directive less than 500 individuals have
ever been provided the required radio-bioassay testing and consequent medical
care. We must note that if United States personnel should receive medical
care then all exposed individuals also must receive medical care. A letter
sent to General Leslie Groves, head of the Manhatten Project (the development
of the first atomic bomb), during 1943 that I obtained during Fall 1999
emphasized the need for immediate medical care. In that memorandum dated
October 30, 1943, senior scientists assigned to the Manhattan Project suggested
that uranium could be used as an air, water, and terrain contaminant.
- According to the letter sent by the Subcommittee of the
S-1 Executive Committee on the "Use of Radioactive Materials as a
Military Weapon" to General Groves (October 30, 1943) inhalation of
uranium would result in "bronchial irritation coming on in a few hours
to a few days". This is exactly what happened to those of us who inhaled
DU dust during Operation Desert Storm, U.S. and KFOR soldiers and civilians
in the Balkans, and residents of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The subcommittee
went on further to state that "Beta emitting products could get into
the gastrointestinal tract from polluted water, or food, or air.
- From the air, they would get on the mucus of the nose,
throat, bronchi, etc. and be swallowed. The effects would be local irritation
just as in the bronchi and exposures of the same amount would be required.
The stomach, caecum and rectum, where contents remain for longer periods
than elsewhere would be most likely affected. It is conceivable that ulcers
and perforations of the gut followed by death could be produced, even without
an general effects from radiation". Verified adverse health effects
from personal experience, reported by physicians, and from personal reports
from individuals with known DU exposures include: (a) Reactive airway disease,
(b) neurological abnormalities, (c) kidney stones and chronic kidney pain,
(d) rashes, (e) vision degradation, cataracts, and night vision losses,
(f) gum tissue and teeth problems, (g) lymphoma, (h) various forms of skin
and organ cancer, (I) neuro-psychological disorders, (j) uranium in semen,
(k) sexual dysfunction, and (l) birth defects in offspring.
- Similar health effects also have been documented in uranium
processing facility employees of and residents living near Puducah, Kentucky,
Portsmouth, Ohio; Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford,
Washington who made the DU. Employees at uranium manufacturing or processing
facilities in New York, Tennessee, Iowa, Massachusetts, and the four corners
area of southwest Colorado also have repeatedly reported health effects
similar to those reported by verified Gulf War DU casualties. Iraqi and
other humanitarian agency physicians are reporting the same health effects
in exposed populations. Scottish scientists recently verified that residents
of the Balkans were excreting uranium in their urine. This indicates that
the uranium is mobile in the environment and is more evidence to support
what we found during the DU tests in 1994 and 1995. Consequently we can
not ignore the serious adverse health effects from DU exposures and these
known effects substantiate the banning of DU munitions.
- As a result of the 1993 GAO report, congressional inquiries,
our recommendations, and an increase in observed adverse health and environmental
effects; I was recalled to active duty in the United States Army as Director
of the Depleted Uranium Project. I supervised the research to verify DU
hazards and processing procedures and to develop the training and education
and formal guidelines for management of DU contaminated equipment, facilities,
and terrain. The products of the DU project included: Three training curricula:
(1) Tier I: General Audience, (2) Tier II: Battle Damage and Recovery Operations,
(3) Tier III: Chemical Officer / NCO; Three video tapes: (1) "Depleted
Uranium Hazard Awareness", (2) "Contaminated and Damaged Equipment
Management", and (3) "Operation of the AN/PDR 77 Radiac Set";
the draft Army Regulation: "Management of Equipment Contaminated with
Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities"; an United States Army
Pamphlet specifying "Handling Procedures for Equipment Contaminated
with Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities" and a redesigned
radiac capable of finding and quantifying DU contamination.
- The recommendations that I derived and issued, based
on extensive research and first hand experience were:
- 1. All DU contamination must be physically removed and
properly disposed of to prevent future exposures.
- 2. Specialized radiation detection devices that detect
and measure alpha particles, beta particles, x-rays, and gamma rays emissions
at appropriate levels from 20 dpm up to 100,000 dpm and from .1 mrem/ hour
to 75 mrem/ hour must be acquired and distributed to all individuals or
organizations responsible for medical care and environmental remediation
activities involving depleted uranium / uranium 238 and other low level
radioactive isotopes that may be present. Standard equipment will not detect
- 3. Medical care must be provided to all individuals who
did or may have inhaled, ingested, or had wound contamination to detect
mobile and sequestered internalized uranium contamination.
- 4. All individuals who enter, climb on, or work within
25 meters of any contaminated equipment or terrain must wear respiratory
and skin protection.
- 5. Contaminated and damaged equipment or materials should
not be recycled to manufacture new materials or equipment.
- The United States Army's own task performance standards
for exposure to DU are very specific and require both respiratory and skin
protection. They also state that quote
- "NOTE: Contamination will make food and water unsafe
for consumption" (end quote.)
- The specific task performance requirements are that individual
- "Evaluation Preparation
- HANDS-ON EVALUATION DATE:
- TASK TITLE TASK NUMBER
- Respond To Depleted Uranium/Low Level Radioactive Materials
(Dullram) Hazards (SL 1-4) 031-503-1017 ITEM PERFORMANCE STEP TITLE (CIRCLE
- 1 Identified possible hazards GO / NO GO NOTE: Method
used depends on scenario selected
- 2 Assumed field expedient respiratory protection cravat/handkerchief)
immediately or donned protective mask as required GO / NO GO
- 3 Warned others of DULLRAM hazard GO / NO GO a. Alerted
other crew members or individuals within 50 meters of the possible DULLRAM
hazard GO / NO GO b. Got out of vehicle and seek shelter if vehicle or
munitions are on fire GO / NO GO
- 4 Protected himself from contact with DULLRAM a. Administered
first aid (1) Flushed open wounds with water. (2) Covered open wounds with
field dressing. Did not attempt to remove any imbedded fragments b. Covered
exposed skin within 50 meters of hazard (pulled down sleeves, bloused pants,
put on MOPP gloves, and buttoned up coat) c. Sealed loose contamination
on equipment surfaces
- GO / NO GO GO / NO GO GO / NO GO
- 5 Reported suspected contamination to supervisor GO /
NO GO Score the soldier GO if all performance measures are passed. Score
the soldier NO GO if any performance measure is failed. If the soldier
scores NO GO, show the soldier what was done wrong and how to do it correctly.
Allow the soldier time to retrain and retest.
- EVALUATOR'S NAME UNIT:
- SOLDIER'S NAME STATUS: GO / NO GO"
- End quote.
- It is very important to note that respiratory and skin
protection must be worn by all individuals who are or may be exposed to
DU contamination. If this is required for United States Army personnel
then it must required for all citizens of the world. Of special significance
is that Army officials acknowledge that DU contamination will make water
and food unsafe as specified during October 1943. Consequently, it is apparent
the use of DU munitions is simply too dangerous to use even by the U.S.
Army's own safety standards. Today, eleven years after the extensive use
of depleted uranium munitions during the Gulf War, followed by use of DU
in the Balkans; on Vieques, Puerto Rico in preparation for combat use in
the Balkans, in Okinawa, and on many military installations around the
world; visual evidence, personal experience, and published reports verify
- 1. Medical care has not been provided to all DU casualties.
- 2. Environmental remediation has not been completed.
- 3. Contaminated and damaged equipment and materials have
been recycled to manufacture new products.
- 4. Training and education has only been partially implemented.
- 5. Contamination management procedures have not been
distributed and implemented. The denials about DU hazards although obvious
were and still are guided by the infamous Los Alamos memorandum (http://www.spidersmill.com/gwvrl/los_alamos.htm)
that was sent to our team in Saudi Arabia during March 1991. The author
of this memorandum acknowledged serious health and environmental hazards
but wrote that we should only report those findings that would permit the
continued use DU munitions.
- IN OTHER WORDS, LIE!
- If we use DU munitions again in areas already contaminated
or any new location then we will cause additional health problems and environmental
contamination. Consequently, as a scientist, educator, and military officer
who was given the responsibility by United States Army officials to clean
up the DU mess; I must issue the following recommendation to the citizens
of the world.
- As the military and civilian leaders of the United States
and Great Britain contemplate preemptive attacks on the nation of Iraq;
the citizens of the world, all humanitarian agencies, the United Nations,
and all concerned law abiding governments of the world must raise a unified
voice to ban the use of depleted uranium munitions and force those nations
that have used depleted uranium munitions to recognize the immoral consequences
of their actions and assume responsibility for medical care and thorough
environmental remediation. A nation's military personnel cannot willfully
contaminate any other nation, cause harm to persons and the environment
then ignore the consequences of their actions. To do so is a crime against
GOD and humanity!!!
- WE MUST DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR GOD AND THE CITIZENS OF
THE WORLD --- BAN DU !!!
- PART 2: George Angus Parker's comments
- My name is George Angus Parker. I am a British Gulf Veteran.
- The above warning issued by Professor Doug Rokke is a
chilling reminder that war is nothing more than a monument to the incompetence
of politicians and their advisors. His concerns regarding the misuse of
depleted nuclear waste (Depleted Uranium - DU) as a weapon of conventional
warfare are those of a very knowledgeable scientist, who has witnessed
and made actual measurements to support his assertions. As evidence of
that fact the reader should be aware that many of the documents and training
films pertaining to depleted uranium munitions currently used by the US
and UK armed forces, were produced by him and members of his team.
- None of his measurements and reports of actual contamination
should have been news to the US or UK authorities. They had known for many
years that using depleted uranium ammunition would lead to considerable
contamination of both the environment and mankind. As early as the 1940's
powdered uranium was considered for use against German agricultural and
industrial targets as an area contamination/denial weapon. The idea was
a product of the Manhattan Project headed by J. R. Oppenheimer. It was
abandoned because of the obvious long-term health consequences for the
civilian population and the environment.
- As late as July 1990 (one month before Iraq invaded Kuwait)
official reports warned against using DU as an antitank weapon. It was
reported that the public outcry regarding the use of such a controversial
weapon on a conventional battlefield would likely make it impossible to
ever use it again. Obviously, those in positions to authorise the use of
depleted uranium were well aware of the consequences.
- For whatever reason, it was decided that DU would be
used against Iraq and the warnings issued by physicists, physicians and
good intentioned environmental scientists were to be ignored. That decision
alone marks the Gulf conflict of 1991 as the biggest political cock-up
(military term) of modern times. Bigger even than the first use of atomic
bombs against the already defeated Japanese, marking the end of W.W.II.
- Ironically, before the start of the ground war phase
of Operation Desert Storm the British Ministry of Defence issued a warning
to British ground forces. It stated that care should be taken to avoid
areas were DU had been used. Probably for reasons of operational efficiency
that warning was not permitted to reached the front line troops. Would
an infantry man be so willing to take up his personal weapon and engage
the enemy at close quarters, if he had been warned that the burning tank
only feet away was belching radioactive dust? I think not! Particularly
if he was made aware that the dust would not only endanger his life but
also those of any children he fathered at a later date.
- I am not qualified to write with the same authority as
Professor Rokke on the technical aspects of DU environmental contamination
because his actual experience and scientific knowledge of the subject is
considerable. However, as a former vice chairman of Gulf Veterans association,
I can comment on the official resistance to fully investigate the depleted
uranium contamination of Gulf War Veterans. The reluctance and obstruction
of attempts made by veterans who sought and still seek official investigations
into this matter, has uncovered a trail of deceit and lies that shook the
beliefs of many. Serving Queen and Country by placing oneself in harms
way in support of the ideals, freedom, truth, and justice, no longer has
the same attraction.
- It was the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association
(UK charity) who on advice from independent scientists initiated the clinical
testing of veterans looking for Depleted Uranium. After encountering and
defeating every dirty trick in the political obstruction book, the findings
have now been published in a peer reviewed US medical science journal,
the August 2002 issue of Military Medicine. Dr Assaf Durakovic the principle
author, is himself a Gulf Veteran and was formerly a Colonel in the US
Army Medical Corp. He was professor of nuclear medicine at George Town
University School of Medicine and was part of the United Nations quick
response to nuclear incidents.
- As you can plainly see, the credentials of those learned
scientists and physicians currently issuing grave warnings regarding the
future use of Depleted Uranium, are impeccable. The fact that Professors
Rokke and Durakovic committed what is best described as professional suicide
when they decided to speak out on these issues only adds to the growing
honour and international standing of these fine gentlemen. Few other scientists
have lived up to the words of Robert Oppenheimer, the man initially responsible
for the abuse of nuclear material in warfare. He wrote:
- "There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry.
There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must
be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence,
to correct any errors."-J. Robert Oppenheimer, Life, 10 October 1949
- As veterans and human beings we owe Doug Rokke, Assaf
Durakovic and others a great debt, considerably more than we owe to J.
R. Oppenheimer. Even though as you can see above, he begged others to undo
- With all sincerity I can say that witnessing the pain
and suffering of ill Gulf Veterans and their families, has had a dramatic
effect on the way I view future military deployments by the US and UK.
Things witnessed and endured have opened my eyes to the realities of the
relationship between my country's government (together with the civil service)
and members of the armed forces. Rather than valued members of society
owed a debt of honour for defending the state, I am now aware that armed
forces personnel are considered as disposable items. Something to be used
abused and then discarded when broken. Further more, when made ill by the
use of politically sensitive weapons such as DU they are an expensive embarrassment
to be silenced when voicing concerns.
- It is my sincere and heart felt belief that until such
time as the UK and US governments can properly care for ill and dying veterans
of war, they should refrain from deploying members of the armed forces
- As for the contention should we invade Iraq again, this
time to overthrow the government of that country? I contest the rational,
competency and therefor the relevance of the question. My reasons are clearly
explained above. George Angus Parker Formerly Sgt with the 1st Field Laboratory
Unit, Biological-warfare Detection Unit. Porton Down.
- (Foot note: On reflection, perhaps there are good reasons
to revisit the battlefields of Kuwait and Iraq. To scrape our nuclear waste
from their soil and beg forgiveness from the Gods of the common people.)
- From Ladislav - Toronto
- Dear Mr. Jeff,
- I am attaching an article from your web site, regarding
the DU.*** ( Just as references... )
- You have already a lot on you plate and I am personally
very grateful to you for your web site, which itself, alone, is already
a miracle...if you think deeper about it!
- Now, if you consider that US-UK deployment of DU will
lower the second percentage number for 4.51 x 10 (on 7th) = 4,510,000,000
years.... (that is 10,000,000 years more than the age of Earth ITSELF!)
...... ...it makes me sick!
- To just SAY that the ACT itself (using DU ammunition,
mines, etc...) is criminal and against the humanity is not good enough!
- Suggestion 1
- Would it be possible to initiate some kind of International
lobby , which would fight the use of DU ANYWHERE on this planet?
- Yugoslavia was considered one of the MOST beautiful countries
in Europe. They lived on tourism...and look now...children are born with
deadly birth defects, empty villages, dying humans!
- (Gulf War Syndrome? Iraq? I even am not touching that
- Suggestion 2
- All those people who insist that the DU is safe should
agree that a DU munition be exploded (with their permission) in each of
their backyards, playgrounds, houses or ranches....to prove to us they
are sincere when they insist DU is HARMLESS.
- Suggestion 3 - The Book of Shame
- Name of every person (scientists, doctors, factory workers,
owners, generals, politicians (elected and unelected), soldiers, pilots,
etc., who touched this stuff and used it) should be published in a book
dedicated to this tragedy.
- The names of all (producing) companies, factories, "Safety
- research" laboratories, manufacturers, flying squadrons, brigades,
etc., should not be omitted from the book.
- Sincerely Yours, Joe Citizen
- Ladislav Toronto
- PS: In Haag: Germen SS soldiers following their orders,
were executed just for that: Listening to the orders!
- Your DU article: http://www.rense.com/general33/donot.htm
- I am also attaching just a couple of lines of statistics
from another web site. I wanted to know exactly the percentage of the Land
- Here it is: Water = 71% Land = 29%!
- ...Ocean facts and statistics
- 362,000,000 km2 (!!!) or 71% of the surface of the globe
is water. The oceans influence all life on earth. We actually know relatively
little about the oceans. The Earth exists 4,500,000,000 years; modern technology
less than 100 years. In our times, political and commercial decisions are
made, which can destroy developments of billions of years, in just days,
hours and minutes. Some may think that changes in one drop of water don't
change the 1,300,000,000 km3 of water on earth. A human being also consists
of billions of cells; the change in just one cell, may be the beginning
of a terminal.............." http://www.ocean98.org/fact.htm