Dangers of Depleted uranium
Aerojet military weapons testing facility in the Chino Hills east of L.A.
Chino Hills and its' residents have been the unknowning participants in
an experiment using depleted uranium weapons.
Recently completed studies, done by the Environmental Protection
Agency's Department of Toxic Substances Control, at the former Aerojet
Ordnance Facility, in Chino Hills, have concluded that contaminants have
been found in both the soil and the ground water (at depths as great as
35 feet) at 10 locations on the site. The testing found evidence of
mustard gas, nerve gas (probably VX), tear gas, explosive chemicals and
other potentially dangerous materials (including depleted uranium,
perchlorate, and TNT).
Depleted uranium (also known as DU or U-238) is the waste product left
over from the production of nuclear weapons and nuclear generators. The
name depleted uranium gives the false impression that it is harmless and
that the biological and enviromental dangers of enriched uranium have
been eleiminated. THIS IS NOT TRUE. DU has a radioactive half-life of
at least 4.5 billion years. IT IS DANGEROUS when inhaled or ingested.
As an airborne contaminant, it has been known to travel as much as 26
miles in the form of toxic and radioactive dust. It has the ability to
get into our gound water and soil when it rains.
Scientists searched for many years for a use of the more than 500,000
tons of DU stockpiled in the United States.
It was discovered that DU was a cheap way to enhance shells and bullets,
making them harder and better able to penetrate armor. Aerojet is the
Pentagon's largest supplier of DU weapons, producing 60 percent of all
DU penetrator bullets.
During the Gulf War, DU projectiles were fired by U.S. war planes.
Today in Iraq, there are special hospital wards to handle the cases of
new born babies that are suffering from radiation diseases and
mutations. Babies have extra toes, fused fingers, and missing ears.
Many of the children have liver and kidney diseases. There has been an
increase in leukemia, aplastic anemia, and malignant neoplasms. New
studies show that low-level exposure to radiation can cause genetic
instability and cancer in children of exposed parents. Exposed persons
may not die from cancer, but their off-spring have a greater chance of
inheriting mutated cells.
The dangers of DU have been noted for many years. In fact, in 1982,
then-Senator, Al Gore held special subcommittee hearings on the
radiation exposure of employees at an Aerojet Ordnance plant in
Depleted uranium is thought by many to be the source of the mysterious
Gulf War Syndrom which has plagued many of our young men and women since
returning from that war. Many of them handled projectiles made with DU
and others were in areas where DU projectiles had been exploded.
Do we have DU in our water? Has DU contaminated our soil? Have we been
breathing DU particles for years? Does Chino Hills have a high rate of
birth defects? Are there more case of childhood cancers here than in
other communities? How much DU was left on the Aerojet site? How much
dust was produced over the years from testing? Can DU be safely and
completely removed from the Aerojet site? Will grading on the site
create more DU dust? What about neighboring properties?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered!!!
The Staff at Chino Hills Voice