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Depleted Uranium Pamphlet

National Gulf War Resource Center

WARNING: the main danger is not from staying near depleted uranium, but from inhaling or ingesting depleted uranium dust. Once inside the body, the dust can cause the following illnesses: Cancers and birth defects. Damage to nervous system, kidneys and immune system. Various respiratory system problems. Problems with urination and defecation. These effects may not show until a few years after exposure. Just one tiny, invisible particle of the dust can make you sick, once it gets inside your body. Depleted uranium stays radioactive for millions of years.

Which Places Are Contaminated with Depleted Uranium:

NATO planes fired bullets made of depleted uranium. Upon striking a hard object (f. ex. a rock, concrete, thick steel) the bullet burns and turns into radioactive and toxic powder. The powder covers everything and can be blown away by the wind up to tens of kilometres. It is washed off with rain and enters underground and surface water. The dust also penetrates into the top layer of soil and stays there. A place may be dangerously contaminated from a few tens of metres to hundreds of metres from the point of explosion NATO aimed at military targets including vehicles and buildings, but the pilots also hit refugee convoys, trains and buses. The Serb army made a lot of decoys of real military equipment such as tanks, heavy guns and rocket launchers and placed it everywhere to confuse NATO. Therefore depleted uranium may have been shot at great many places at various targets, f. ex. depleted uranium bullets were found near a radio tower after the war. Most of the bullets fired don't quite hit the target, so intact depleted uranium bullets land on the ground around the targets, or bury themselves into the soil, sometimes deep. Some of the intact bullets may become deformed from impact. Pieces of depleted uranium may chip off other bullets, if they fall into pieces without burning.

The Serb army fired at NATO planes and rockets with ammunition that contains shrapnel made of depleted uranium metal. These pieces fall to the ground after a bullet explodes in the air. So they could be lying around anywhere within a few kilometres from Serb army. Intact depleted uranium bullets and pieces of depleted uranium metal from NATO and Serb ammunition corrode over time. The metal turns into fine, black uranium dust. This dust is as harmful as the powder bullets that burned on impact.

Thousands of NATO cruise missiles, rockets and bombs fell on the ground. Some exploded, others did not. Most of them contained depleted uranium used as ballast and in navigational devices inside them. Explosions burned these depleted uranium parts into radioactive toxic powder, and also spread around pieces of depleted uranium metal.

Most NATO planes also contain depleted uranium in their ballast and navigational devices. Some of the NATO planes crashed. The crash sites are contaminated with depleted uranium powder from burning and/or pieces of depleted uranium metal that corrodes into black dust.

Places that have been shot at are marked with bullet pitting on walls and pavement, and holes in metal. Frequently the shells of depleted uranium rounds (a round consists of the shell and a depleted uranium tip) can be found nearby. The shells are made of aluminium and are 2,5 cm or 3 cm in diameter, about 20 cm long. Do not touch or come near any unexploded or strange-looking objects . They might explode when you are there. Notify your neighbours and the authorities immediately. Keep the children and animals off. Leave a warning sign or (better) someone on guard in a safe distance from the weapon, until the site is secured against accidental entry. In winter, when ground is covered with snow, don' t go anywhere you don't know for sure is cleared of all weapons left after the war. Special equipment is required to identify a site contaminated by depleted uranium without any doubt. Standard radiological meters as used by the military are not adequate. Stay away from ANY place that has been attacked by NATO planes or where rockets, missiles and bombs have exploded.

DO NOT enter any damaged buildings or military and civilian vehicles, no matter how curious you are and no matter what valuables might be inside. It may cost you the loss of your health forever.

DO NOT disturb the soil at the places that might be contaminated with depleted uranium.

DO NOT collect ANYTHING (crops, fruit, berries, flowers, firewood, bullets, shells, shrapnel, building materials, vehicle and machine parts, furniture, etc.) from places that may be contaminated with depleted uranium.

Forbid CHILDREN to play at or near those places, to collect anything from there no matter how interesting. Place guards made up of community members to make sure no children, unsuspecting persons and animals enter the contaminated sites. Do not use water from lakes, streams and wells in the vicinity of the contaminated site.

DO NOT grow any crops at or near the contaminated site.

DO NOT graze cattle, sheep, goats or horses there.

DO NOT let any chickens, geese, or ducks walk around the site.

DON' T NOT use hay or other animal feed from the contaminated site and its vicinity. Mark off and place permanently clear signs a few hundred metres around a suspected site contaminated with depleted uranium.

Also place signs on roads, trails and paths leading to the contaminated place. Alert the whole neighbourhood to the problem, so that nobody exposes themselves to depleted uranium unknowingly. Record the location of the site for mapping, when situation in the country returns to normal. The site must not be forgotten, because some excavation work or natural erosion at the site would expose the depleted uranium dust to the air again.

If you live near a site that may be contaminated with depleted uranium: Teach your own and your neighbour children the following rules, supervise and check that they obey. Explain the contents of this pamphlet to all those of your friends and neighbours who may need help with information (the elderly, the blind, mentally ill, illiterate and uneducated people). Record any unusual health symptoms in your family and community (name, address and age of the person, date of observation, description of the symptoms). Avoid pregnancy. Cover your skin and hair. Wash your hands, face, hair and clothes often. Don't put fingers into your mouth or nose, don' t lick your skin, clean your nose by blowing it. Keep all wounds well dressed so that no depleted uranium dust can get into them. Drink only such water that you are sure is not contaminated with depleted uranium. Keep all food and water tightly covered so that no depleted uranium dust can enter. Wash food that can be washed, such as fruit, nuts, vegetables and grain, before eating. In dry and windy weather avoid going outside, put wetted cloth along window, door and other cracks to keep the outside dust from entering the inside of your home. Do not use ventilators or heating systems that take in outside air. If you think you have ingested or inhaled depleted uranium, seek medical help. If medical help is not available in your area, start drinking distilled water immediately. [someone please describe a do-it-yourself method of distilling water in average Balkan conditions]

Temporary neutralization of a contaminated site. Places and objects that have been contaminated with depleted uranium can be covered with a layer of soil, until specialized corps will deal with the problem. Workers engaged in the remedial work at a contaminated site must wear full radiological protection, including cover head to toes, gloves and special respirators. The safest method is to dump heaps of soil in a safe distance from the site, then spread it gradually forward towards the centre of the contaminated site, thus never walking or driving directly on the contaminated surface. The best weather for this work is wet and rainy without wind. The site may be gently sprinkled with water mist to keep the dust down, but with care not to disturb the dust into the air. The new top layer of soil will keep the depleted uranium dust from getting into the air, but will not prevent contaminated particles from seeping into ground and ground water, or from leaching out into the surface waters. Covering the site with plastic sealed at seems might help prevent rainwater from taking depleted uranium particles into the ground and into groundwater.

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