imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Depleted uranium, depleted health concerns

by ISN Security Watch Friday, Nov. 02, 2007 at 5:55 PM

As a growing number of Italian soldiers who served in the Balkans meet their death due to serious illness, the specter of 'Balkan Syndrome' and the effects of depleted uranium are again in the spotlight.

29 October 2007

By Anes Alic in Sarajevo for ISN Security Watch (29/10/07)

An increase of the number of Italian soldiers who served in the Balkans during the 1990s who are falling seriously ill due to depleted uranium exposure is causing a public outrage in Italy, as the government downplays the extent of the problem, widely referred to as "Balkan Syndrome."

According to an October study by the Italian Military Health Observatory, a total of 164 Italian soldiers have died thus far due to exposure to depleted uranium while serving in the Sarajevo suburbs and in Kosovo during the 1990s. In 2007 alone, the study said there were nine such related deaths and 97 new cases of uranium infection.

However, these numbers contradict government data, which claims that a total of 255 Italian troops have contracted tumors up to this date not only in missions in Balkans but also in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. The government also said that there was no established connection between those cases and depleted uranium.

Speaking to the Senate commission of inquiry into depleted uranium, Italian Defense Minister Arturo Parisi said that 37 of those soldiers who had contracted tumors had died so far. During that same period, 1,427 troops not involved in missions abroad also contracted tumors, according to the government.

"Nevertheless, cases of soldiers discharged years ago who did not apply for military service to be recognized as the cause will be excluded. This means that their illness may only be known to the national, but not the military, health service," Parisi said.

Following the minister's speech before the Senate investigation committee, which will release its own report on the depleted uranium allegations by the end of the year, questions were raised over the accuracy of the statistics provided with some members of the parliament expressing doubt over defense ministry's methodology, according to Italian media reports.

"I fear the minister's figures refer only to the number of soldiers who fell ill while in active service, and failed to take account of those who had left the military," Italian media quoted Tana de Zuleta, a Green MP in the majority coalition, as saying.

In addition, in late September, the Italian government passed a decree allocating €170 million (US5 million) in compensation for military personnel who have contracted diseases during their service - some 28,000 of them in Balkan missions alone.

However, next year, the government is planning, due to contradictory statistics, to set up a center comprised of leading experts in the field to study the depleted uranium issue, as the identification of a relationship of cause and effect is still under investigation.

Concerns over possible health effects of depleted uranium shells in Bosnia and Kosovo have also been raised by service members or civilian aid workers in Spain, France, Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Several dozens deaths and illnesses of military personnel from these countries over the course of the past decade have been attributed to depleted uranium by their governments.

Weapon of choice

Up to one million rounds of depleted uranium-enhanced ammunition were used in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. Many Gulf War veterans have argued that depleted uranium has been the cause of their serious illnesses.

The same munitions were the weapons of choice for US forces in air attacks on Bosnian Serb positions in 1995 and the former Serbia and Montenegro federation in 1999.

Depleted uranium is what is leftover from the production of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and energy plants. It is used in armor-penetrating military ordinance because of its high density, and also in the manufacture of defensive armor plates. The element also leaves behind a very fine radioactive dust that has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

The so-called Balkan Syndrome affair first came to attention in early 2001, when several European countries, members within a UN peacekeeping mission, reported a series of cancer cases among soldiers who had taken part in peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. There have also been cases of children of Italian Balkan veterans born with genetic malformations.

During NATO's 1994 and 1995 bombings of Bosnian Serb positions near Sarajevo, aircrafts used munitions containing depleted uranium. Most of those bombs - 10,800 rounds of 30mm armor-piercing projectiles in total - were fired in Hadzici, where the Bosnian Serb army had a weapons depot. In one day in October 1995 alone, NATO planes fired 300 projectiles into this Sarajevo suburb.

Back in 2003, UN experts confirmed the discovery of two locations containing a high level of radiation from depleted uranium from NATO bombings. A UN research team found that depleted uranium had contaminated local supplies of drinking water and could still be found in dust particles suspended in the air in the Hadzici are and in a Bosnian Serb army barracks in Han-Pijesak, also near Sarajevo. Investigators also discovered uranium materials and dust inside the buildings.

Despite this, the 2003 UN report claims that there is no danger for the postwar residents of Hadzici, since the recorded contamination levels are very low, but recommended further measuring of the radiation.

Soon after, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report was published, Bosnian Federation medical officials began to speculate as to the possibility that depleted uranium might be the cause of an increase in cases of diseases such as cancer, cerebral palsy, and others - especially leukemia.

However, director of the Sarajevo Radiology Institute, Dr Lejla Saracevic, told ISN Security Watch that due to the lack of statistics and cooperation from citizens, the illnesses could not be definitively linked to depleted uranium.

"Yet, the UN measured the level of radiation seven years after the bombing. No one knows the level of contamination in 1995 and the following years and how many people were in contact with the depleted uranium," Saracevic said.

Furthermore, all UN experts' activities related to measuring the radiation have since stopped and local institutions lack the funding to continue the task, she said.

Hadzici and Han-Pijesak were not the only sites held by Bosnian Serbs during the war to be targeted by NATO. Bosnian officials suspect that eight other locations were bombed using depleted uranium-enhanced ammunition. However, those locations, the surroundings of four small towns near Sarajevo and four others in eastern Bosnia, are still too risky to investigate due to the possible presence of land mines.

After the war ended in December 1995 and the town came under the control of the Federation entity dominated by Bosniaks and Croats, most of the Serbs left Hadzici and relocated to the town of Bratunac, in eastern Bosnia, and also to other parts of Republika Srpska and neighboring Serbia. After the UN report was released, doctors there reported a greatly increased incidence of cancer-type illnesses in Bratunac.

To date, up to 30 percent of some 30,000 wartime Hadzici residents have died of various cancers, tumors and heart attacks, according to official statistics. Only in Bratunac, the only town to have kept track of possible depleted uranium illnesses, out of 4,500 wartime Hadzici residents who fled to Bratunac, nearly 1,000 of them died of illnesses believed to be related to depleted uranium exposure.

From the Balkans eastward

According to the Serbian government, NATO's use of armor-piercing depleted uranium shells in its 1999 air strikes left five areas of Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo contaminated by radiation. The zones include sites near Serbia's southern border with Kosovo, near the towns of Presevo, Bujanovac and Vranje, and two zones bordering Montenegro.

UN experts who in 2001 tested 11 out of a total of 112 bombed sites, said that in eight they found increases of harmless radiation. The remaining sites were unapproachable due the presence of land mines.

Serbian military officials alleged that US jets fired some 50,000 rounds of depleted uranium ammunition on military and civilian targets. However, US officials claim that the remains of the heavy metal shells did not present a significant health hazard.

Peacekeeping forces in those zones included Italian, German and Dutch contingents of the multinational peacekeeping force KFOR and some of them had been previously stationed in Bosnia. Only a couple dozen people living near the zones have sought medical checkups and they have not shown signs of illness related to uranium exposure.

However, the Bosnia and Kosovo missions are not the only concerns for international military and civilian personal regarding depleted uranium risks.

Three Bosnian experts interviewed by ISN Security Watch said they believed that munitions containing depleted uranium were used during the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and are still used on a daily basis and could cause 50-100 greater health hazards than in the Balkans.

These experts, who asked not to be named, have calculated that in Iraq alone, some 150 tonnes of depleted uranium were used by the coalition during the first three weeks of the invasion.

Also, since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, US and UK forces delivered between 500 and 600 tonnes of depleted uranium to destroy Taliban-held concrete aircraft hangers and to penetrate underground bunkers.

UN experts urged an immediate restoration of the water supply and sanitation systems, and a cleaning of pollution hot spots and waste sites to reduce the risk of epidemics among the population and coalition forces, but there are no reports that this task was undertaken.

Some NGOs speculate that cancer rates among children have increased by 400 percent in Iraq since the invasion started. However, just like in the Balkans, neither officials in Afghanistan nor Iraq have the funds to or interest in keeping track of the numbers of deadly illnesses and their potential causes.

Since 2003, dozens of US veterans, using the positive results of depleted uranium in their urine, sued the US Army, claiming that military officials were aware of the hazards of depleted uranium, but had concealed the risks. The US Defense Department claims that depleted uranium was powerful and safe, and not that troubling.

For, now the case for or against depleted uranium remains unresolved, but military personnel are increasingly calling for answers.

Anes Alic is a senior correspondent for ISN Security Watch in Southeastern Europe. He is also the Executive Director of ISA Consulting. He is based in Sarajevo.

Report this post as:

Local News


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Doxa du lobby A25 2:03AM

Tech workers organize A24 6:24PM

Architect Stephen Francis Jones A24 3:01PM

UN Forum Wrestles with Economic Policies 10 Years After Financial Crisis Islands Call for A24 12:34PM

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy