DU in the UK

Sick and Dying Veterans
Firing Ranges
Industry



Sick and Dying Veterans

53,000 British personnel served in the Gulf (30,000 in combat areas), and 10,000 veterans now claim that they are ill, while over 500 have died (more than half through suicide, with cancer as the second biggest killer).
The relevant representative bodies are the GVA and the NGVFA, both of which were formed in the early 1990s, and have several thousand members each. The NGVFA is independent of the MoD and is solely concerned with GWS, while the GVA is the official Gulf War Veterans' association. The NGVFA's current (Jan 2003) chairman is Shaun Rusling, who served in the Gulf as an army medic in the Parachute Regiment. He was medically discharged from the army in 1995, but denied a pension.
Professor Malcolm Hooper of Sunderland University acts as chief scientific advisor to the NGVFA, and British vets suffering from GWS.
A soldier's story - January 2001
As one veteran said of the MoD: They're waiting for us to die off, so they don't need to pay out money. They'll just tell us nothing and deny everything.

The UK has dutifully echoed the Pentagon's refusal to consider DU as a possible cause of GWS, and has used the same tricks to frustrate any attempts to statistically correlate DU exposure with subsequent symptons. For example, many UK veterans with GWS symptoms were excluded from the UK's limited DU studies because they had not been exposed to known DU anti-tank penetrators but to other friendly fire weapons, eg. Maverick missiles. However, it is now widely believed that Maverick missiles also contain DU - and significantly more of it, than do the 120mm or 30mm anti-tank penetrators.

In April 1999, the NGVFA accused the MOD of misleading GPs, and leaving sick Gulf War veterans to die.
See the case of the Canadian DU researchers, Sharma and Horan, for more info on the suppression of research into DU in British (and US) vets.
See Felicity Arbuthnot's September 1999 NI article, for another account of the obstruction faced by British GWS sufferers, and ex-soldier Ray Bristow's trip to Baghdad to discover more about his illness.

Another study of 16 British vets in 2001 by German biochemist, Prof Albrecht Schott, found that they had between double and 14 times the usual level of chromosome abnormalities. This article also reports that one vet has fathered 3 children with deformed toes and various other health problems.
Sunday Observer, 11 August 2002

In September 2002, the Gulf War Illness Research Unit at Guys, Kings and St Thomas School of Medicine in London published (in the British Medical Journal) the results of a 5-year study, concluding that the number and intensity of complaints was up to three times higher than among vets from other conflicts, and that this was not due to psychological disorders.
Mark Oliver - The Guardian, 13 September 2002

In January 2001, as the controversy over Balkans Syndrome raged, the government finally agreed to set up a screening programme for UK personnel who had served in the Balkans, and also for Gulf veterans.
After a period of consultation, the DUOB (Depleted Uranium Oversight Board) was set up in September 2001, tasked with establishing a test for uranium isotopes in urine. Despite its limited remit, the appointment of the LLRC's Dr Chris Busby to the board was seen as an encouraging sign.
 

Firing Ranges

At least 40-50 tonnes of DU ammunition have been test-fired in Britain at army ranges in Dumfries (Dundrennan) and Cumbria (Eskmeals), in the past 2 decades. The MoD has admitted firing about 7,000 shells from the Dundrennan range, into the Solway Firth where they remain. Another 315 have been fired into Luce Bay, from the West Freugh Range, near Stranraer. Environmentalists fear that the shells will corrode and wash ashore.
Another 3,000-plus rounds have been fired at the Eskmeals range.
Parliamentary report - March 2001

DU has already been linked to a leukaemia cluster around the MoD firing range at Dundrennan. Communities close to the range, show the highest rate of childhood leukaemia in the UK - Felicity Arbuthnot, Sunday Herald, 04 April 1999
 

Industry

DU munitions are manufactured at Royal Ordnance Speciality Metals (ROSM), a factory in Featherstone, Wolverhampton, which suffered a severe fire in February 1999. Firefighters at the scene were unaware of the DU, and did not wear protective clothing. The FBU (Fire Brigades Union) reports that they are now afraid to have children - FireFighter - March 2001
Issue 3 of CADU News carries an extensive report by West Midlands CND (replete with the usual tales of official obstruction, denial and lack of cooperation experienced by the on-site firemen), including an official admission that the fire may have released up to 50 kg of DU into the atmosphere.
The 14 Jan 2001 Sunday Observer reported claims by 3 prison officers from the adjacent Featherstone prison, that they had tested positive for raised levels of uranium, after two fires in four years at the ROSM factory.

Issue 7 of CADU News has more information about DU manufacturing in the UK
 
 
 

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