Wednesday, May 6, 2009

KCTV5 Investigates Gulf War DU Exposures

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

( -- Kansas City's TV5 provided extensive investigative news today about Depleted Uranium (DU) in the 1991 Gulf War.

Among those interviewed was Gulf War veteran
Jerry Wheat, a Gulf War veteran who is a survivor of a Gulf War friendly fire incident during which his tank was inadvertently attacked by another U.S. tank, which fired a DU round through Wheat's tank. While he made it out to tell about his terrifying experiences, he also lives day-to-day with the frightening consequences of DU shrapnel throughout his body.

Several years ago already, Wheat underwent surgery for bone cancer in one of his arms, which he and others believe is directly related to his DU shrapnel that he carries with him.

Also interviewed was
Dan Fahey, one of the world's leading experts on DU who is - not coincidentally - a Gulf War veteran himself. Fahey's military experiences in the Gulf War aboard a nuclear weapon-carrying U.S. Navy vessel led him to a lifelong interest in exposing the truth about the serious health hazards of DU.

While Jim Bunker, a totally and permanently disabled Gulf War veteran from the Kansas City area and current President of the
National Gulf War Resource Center, believes that federal officials "don't understand the long-term effects of DU," Fahey disagrees.

Fahey continues to be a vocal,
internationally recognized critic of U.S. Defense policy related to DU. His years of research led him to conclude that an unofficial "Don't Ask, Don't Find" philosophy has guided and continues to guide the Pentagon's health research on DU up to the present day.

Even though it has been more than 18 years since the 1991 Gulf War,
published medical research on the health effects of inhaled or ingested DU is scarce. Approximately 600,000 pounds of contaminated DU particulate matter, much of it little more than dust, was left to contaminate the Kuwaiti and Iraqi areas where it was used.

The KCTV5 article quotes Dr. Diane Stearns, a metal toxicologist at Northern Arizona University who reportedly has been studying the effects of DU on DNA for seven years:

"We understand how [DU's] radioactivity can damage DNA and lead to cancer, but no one had ever explored uranium as a chemical," said Stearns. "If we know how [DU] damages DNA, then we know how to protect ourselves and protect the soldiers against harm."
"...Something like depleted uranium, that may cause cancer, that's something that's going to happen decades down the road."

Officially, DOD has had DU safety training for military servicemembers in place since 1999, after significant public pressure by organized Gulf War veterans, the National Gulf War Resource Center, and veterans' allies in Congress, led by
U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and including then-Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Lane Evans (D-Ill.), and senior Committee member Bob Filner (D-Calif.).

In September 1998, Feingold expressed his concerns in a highly publicized letter to the GAO, and requested that the GAO investigate the lack of DU safety training for U.S. military personnel nearly eight years after the Gulf War.

Those efforts at least appeared to pay off, with the Pentagon announcing
in an official DOD August 13, 1999 press release the implementation of a "DoD-wide training initiative to ensure service members know the pros and cons" of DU .

The following March, the GAO released its report, entitled, "Understanding of Health Effects of Depleted Uranium Evolving but Safety Training Needed," which stated, in part:
testing methodology and the test's ability to truly determine either DU exposure or the current level of DU retained in the body. [VA's DU TEST INFO]

Feingold continues to serve in the U.S. Senate, and is now a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Bob Filner is today the cu
rrent Chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Lane Evans, a veteran of the Vietnam War, retired from Congress several years ago due to advanced Parkinson's disease, though the members of his staff involved on the DU project continue to serve as senior Congressional committee staff.


"We are recommending that the Secretary of Defense ensure, by appropriate monitoring and periodic review of training records, that all
servicemembers, including those deployed to Kosovo, receive required
depleted uranium safety training"

However, to date, it is unclear if military troops are getting this recommended safety training at all, let alone on an annual or other periodic basis as is required for issues the military branches consider serious.

Meanwhile, Fahey and other experts remain critical of the ability of the VA's current 24-hour urine capture
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