Bullshit: Blowing In The Wind

The documentary Blowing in the wind, was recently brought to my attention by David and Margaret on At the Movies. David Stratton gives this movie a great description on the At The Movies website:

“It suggests that the American armed forces are using uranium waste, radio-active material, in their weapons; that shells and bullets coated with depleted uranium are being used as armour-piercing devices and that, as a result, wherever these weapons are used there is wide-scale radioactive contamination.”

Apparently the documentary also suggests that these radioactive weapons are used in training in this very country.

Of course this radioactive contamination is going to be responsible for a massive increase in the amount of tumours and specifically lung cancer.

In reality this is bullshit. For one depleted Uranium is not what we usually think of as radioactive waste as it is not the left overs from a nuclear reactor. When natural uranium is mined out of the ground it is only mildly radioactive. This is because it is a combination of 0.7% of the highly radioactive Uranium-235 and 99.3% of the slightly radioactive Uranium-238. A nuclear reactor can only run on Uranium-235 meaning it needs to be removed from the vast bulk of Uranium-238. This process is called enrichment.

There is a huge amount of Uranium-238 left over. There is a big deal made about the 4.5 billion year half-life of depleted Uranium. This is not a bad thing, but a good thing. It means that a very small amount of radiation is released, not enough to seriously damage a human being.

If depleted Uranium were going to be a massive problem, it would already be immediately apparent. 350 tonnes of the stuff was dropped on Iraq in the first Gulf war. According to New Scientist magazine Scandia National Laboratories undertook a two-year study and found there is no seriously increased risk of Iraqi civilians developing cancer and Iraqi children do not have an appreciable increased chance of birth defects. During the first Gulf War only a few veterans inhaled enough depleted Uranium to increase their risk of lung cancer by 1%.

According to the Federation of American Scientists Military Analysis Network:

“In military applications, when alloyed, Depleted Uranium [DU] is ideal for use in armor penetrators. These solid metal projectiles have the speed, mass and physical properties to perform exceptionally well against armored targets. DU provides a substantial performance advantage, well above other competing materials.”

This issue will not be considered a serious one by Government because of the scientific evidence against the dangers of depleted Uranium. This entire thing is just scare mongering.

See you in the comments.

3 Responses to “Bullshit: Blowing In The Wind”

  1. Chris Fryer Says:

    There’s lots of greenies out there.

    When any one hears the word radiation or uranium logic goes out the window and reason gives way to paranoia.

    Some parts of the green movement have become a religion and they completely ignore the science. This is a danger because it allows the other side to do the same thing. Thus we end up with global warming deniers.

    We end up with two firmly entrenched camps neither side using reason to back up their arguments. The result is nothing gets done and the Earth gets damaged.

  2. Jeremy Says:

    The potential problem with DU isn’t so much the large lumps of relatively stable stuff which gets left behind, it’s the small splinters that become dust in the air as the munitions shave off in the air. It’s the dust which gets in the lungs where even small amounts of radiation do nasty things which is the potential problem. And none of those studes are conclusive, being too narrow in their mandates and size.

  3. Splat Guy Says:

    Interesting article. I’d always assumed depleted uranium was essentially the less-evil brother, but evil nonetheless. I now know better… now, where’s a greenie to use my new-found knowledge on? :)