Thursday, September 10, 2009

Telegaph: UK Soldier died from exposure depleted uranium during Gulf War

The death of a former soldier from colon cancer was "more likely than not" caused by his exposure to depleted uranium during the first Gulf War, an inquest has heard.

Published: 2:22PM BST 10 Sep 2009

(United Kingdom -- -- The hearing in Smethwick, West Midlands, was told that Stuart Dyson died 17 years after being exposed to particles of the substance used in munitions during the 1991 conflict.

Mr Dyson, who served in the Royal Pioneer Corps, died aged 39 in June last year after a battle against colon cancer which spread to his liver and spleen.

Giving evidence to an inquest jury, Professor Christopher Busby, an expert on the effects of uranium on health, said Mr Dyson's cancer was ''more likely than not'' caused by ingestion and inhalation of the substance during his service in the Gulf.

The witness, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster, added: ''It (uranium) is actually much more dangerous than it originally appeared to be.

''The interesting thing about Mr Dyson's cancer is that he was extremely young - the chances of him acquiring cancer were something like six per million per year.''

Professor Busby said he had visited Iraq in 2000 and had found particles of depleted uranium with dangerously high radiation levels near the wrecks of tanks destroyed during the war.

The expert told the jury: ''We also know in this case that he was cleaning tanks and generally walking about in Gulf War One, where there was a significant amount of depleted uranium in the air.

''Mr Dyson was exposed by inhalation and ingestion.

''My feeling about Mr Dyson's colon cancer is that it was produced because he ingested some radioactive material and it became trapped in his intestine.

''It's certainly much more probable than not that Mr Dyson's cancer was caused by exposure to depleted uranium.''

Mr Dyson's widow Elaine, who lives in Brownhills, West Midlands, said her husband had suffered from a variety of complaints after leaving the military.

The soldier served in the Gulf between January and May 1991, cleaning tanks before they were sent back the UK, and left the Army in 1992.

Mrs Dyson said her husband had once been very fit, even boxing and playing rugby for the army, but had suffered sleep problems, night sweats, creaking bones, and cold sores as his health deteriorated over the years.

''He was convinced that his time in the Gulf was where the cancer had come from,'' she told the inquest.

Mrs Dyson said there was no history of colon cancer in her husband's family and his immune system had appeared to "run down" once he returned from the Gulf.

Summing up the evidence to the jury panel, Black Country coroner Robin Balmain said he had received a submission from a scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, who had concluded Mr Dyson's cancer arose naturally and there was no evidence to associate it with his exposure to depleted uranium.

The MoD, which was informed in March that Mr Busby had been called to give expert evidence, was not represented at the hearing.

"It is in my view somewhat disappointing that the Ministry of Defence chose not to come here and assist you with any expert evidence which might have put forward the contrary view," the coroner told the jury.

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