Contamination caused with depleted uranium will last for 4.5 billion years
Increased radioactivity was found in destroyed and abandoned Iraqi tanks. The radiation level may testify to the fact that the US army used uranium-cored projectiles in the raids. Japan's Kyodo News agency reported from Baghdad, a group of specialists had found several radioactive tanks in the area of the Iraqi town of Samawa, where the Japanese contingent was stationed.
The abandoned military hardware is dangerous to people's health, the news agency said. International coalition troops will destroy the tanks for safety reasons. The group of specialists included experts from a Japanese non-governmental organization. The experts said that the radiation level that they had registered near the tanks exceeded the norm 300 times.
Medical examinations of the US military men, who returned home from Iraq, also showed that the Pentagon used depleted uranium armor-piercing shells. American newspaper wrote before that displays of radioactive contamination were registered with the US soldiers, who had been deployed in the area of the Samawa (fierce battles took place in the town during the first two weeks of the US and British incursion in Iraq).
Depleted uranium, also known as uranium-238, is the by-product received from processing fuel for nuclear reactors. The element is 1.7 times heavier than lead. Depleted uranium is used for making projectile cores and special bombs to pierce tank armors and bunkers' concrete ceilings.
Spokespeople for the Pentagon said that uranium-238 possessed short-term harmful impact, which allowed to categorize it as the ‘chemical contamination’ rather than radioactivity. The substance becomes environmentally harmless in seven years after it has been used, experts of the US military department insist.
The Pentagon's independent colleagues are being more precise in their judgments, though. High temperatures destroy the uranium tip of a shell, when it slams into the armored surface. Fine dust is produced as a result of the impact. The dust penetrates into blood via the respiratory system, which results in lung cancer and renal insufficiency. Moreover, regulations prohibit US military men to approach the military hardware, which has been destroyed with uranium shells. It is allowed to do it in case of emergent necessity.
American physicist Doug Rokke, who served in Iraq in 1991 cleaning the country of depleted uranium, said: "For each and every vehicle that is struck by a single uranium munition you have to take that entire vehicle, and physically remove it. Then you have to clean up all the uranium penetration that is left around that vehicle. Then you have to take a bulldozer, and go out to at least 100 metres (yards) and scrape down at least 10 centimetres (four inches) and remove all of that dirt in order to make that area safe again. If that is not done, he said, the contamination will last 4.5 billion years.”
Based on the materials of Russia and foreign media outlets
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