LLRC Journal Radioactive Times. Vol.5 No 1

Radioactive Times. Vol.5 No 1

UNEP to run inadequate DU survey in Iraq?

Following United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) field studies of DU in the Balkans (see Depleted Uranium in the Balkans and its effects and table of Balkans surveys), UNEP has called for a scientific assessment of places in Iraq where DU was used. UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said "Although our assessments to date, under conditions prevailing in the Balkans, have concluded that DU contamination does not pose any immediate risks to human health or the environment, the fact remains that depleted uranium is still an issue of great concern for the general public. An early study in Iraq could either lay these fears to rest or confirm that there are indeed potential risks, which could then be addressed through immediate action."

The scene is therefore set for a study which again finds "no problem" except in the immediate vicinity of weapons impacts. The UNEP announcement admits, however, that the studies in the Balkans had identified a number of scientific uncertainties that should be further explored. These include the possibility that DU dust could later be re-suspended in the air by wind or human activity, with the risk that it could be breathed in. LLRC will press UNEP to conduct adequate air monitoring and to publish a full characterisation of any airborne DU found.

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