By William Boardman, Reader Supported News: Depleted Uranium weapons:
Why shouldn't it be a war crime to poison civilians with radiation? "Depleted Uranium weapons: "Depleted Uranium (DU) is a very dense, inexpensive, easy-to-shape metal which provides excellent protection against conventional munitions. The same qualities that make depleted Uranium excellent defensive armor turn lethal when used as offensive munitions." U.S. Army training film. An anonymous phone call to the Florida Dept. of Emergency Management alerted airport officials that there was an open 55-gallon drum full of old airplane parts made with depleted Uranium near a fence in a scrap section of the Opa-locka Executive Airport near Miami, Florida. The first thing everyone did was panic. They evacuated that part of the airport and established a 150' radius "hot zone" around the suspect drum. They called the local fire and rescue team and called the state and federal environmental protection agencies, and all that calling brought the media in for a one-day story that played on the major TV networks and other media, with headline language like "Uranium scare forces evacuation" and "found exposed" and "hazmat crews on the scene." "It's a radioactive substance no one wants to be exposed to, it can affect your bodily functions," Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Arnold Piedrahita told CBS News. That was July 25, and by the end of the day, the most interesting part of the news was a report, only in USA Today, that from the start the 55-gallon drum was labeled "depleted Uranium" containing U-238, a radioactive isotope of Uranium that remains radioactive for billions of years. Properly handled and contained, DU is not all that dangerous, as the emergency teams soon concluded. And the DU in the drum was in solid form, DU is far greater threat to humans as liquid, dust, or aerosol, forms far more common in combat zones. The Opa-locka DU turned out to be an integrated element of airplane parts decades old, dating from the time when the heavy metal, about 68% denser than lead was commonly used in airplanes for counterweights. Boeing and McDonnell Douglas dropped this practice in the 1980s. Once officials understood the problem, they reduced the "hot zone" to a five-foot radius, and pictures show firefighters chatting within arm's length of the drum. And the story dropped out of the news without further clarification. Only one news report among those sampled, by PressTV, connected the unnecessary American disregard for its genocidal use of DU weapons in Iraq and elsewhere, poisoning civilian populations for generations to come. Suppose that for more than 20 years, a nation uses weapons that it knows are not only a threat to its own soldiers, but will cause civilian casualties for at least a generation. Would such a nation be a serial war criminal? Military experimentation with depleted Uranium began in the 1950's with the goal of developing an effective anti-tank weapon to use against Soviet tanks. As a dense, heavy metal that sharpens itself as it penetrates a hard surface, DU had the added military virtue of igniting spontaneously and burning at temperatures of 3,000 to 6,000 Degrees C.