Uranium Munitions = Depleted Uranium
Sun Jul 23, 2006 18:48

Uranium Munitions = Depleted Uranium

Half life of 4.5 billion years *
What is depleted uranium? Natural uranium ore from the mine goes through an enrichment process designed to separate uranium 235 (U-235), the isotope used for nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors, from uranium 238 (U-238), a low-level radioactive by-product. The highly radioactive isotope U-235 accounts for less than 1% of mined uranium; nearly all the rest is U-238.

The vast quantity of highly toxic metal (U-238) generated by this process is called "depleted uranium" or "DU." DU emits primarily alpha radiation, and its half-life is thought to be about the age of the Earth, or 4.5 billion years. DU is approximately 2.5 times denser than iron and 1.7 times denser than lead. This high specific gravity means that, as a projectile fired from a tank or aircraft, it carries enough kinetic energy to blast through the tough armor of a tank. Furthermore, the impact of this penetration generates extreme heat. DU is pyrophoric, meaning that it burns on impact and can set the target on fire. DU is easy to process and endless quantities can be obtained free from the Department of Energy (DOE), which controls DU and considers its use in munitions to be "utilization of waste material." Retrieved 08/11/04 http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/abom/uran/special/index2.html

As U-238 breaks down, an ongoing process, it creates protactinium-234, which radiates potent beta particles that may cause cancer as well as mutations in body cells that could lead to birth defects.

When a depleted uranium round hits a hard target, as much as 70 percent of the projectile can burn on impact, creating a firestorm of depleted uranium particles. The toxic residue of this firestorm is an extremely fine insoluble uranium dust that can be spread by the wind, inhaled and absorbed into the human body and absorbed by plants and animals, becoming part of the food chain. Once in the soil, it can pollute the environment and create up to a hundredfold increase in uranium levels in ground water, according to the U.N. Environmental Program. Retrieved 08/12/04 http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/iraq2002/133581_du04.html

The United States military has never confronted an opponent that used depleted uranium. Most exposure to American military personnel has been a result of fire from their own forces. MATTHEW L. WALD The New York Times Oct 19, 2004

Resources collected by Dennis W. Mills, Ph.D.VFP #109 Rachel Corrie Chapter, Olympia WA.





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