[oclug] Re: [OT] Depleted uranium bullets
unclefred at fredwilliams.ca
Wed Aug 23 20:52:14 EDT 2006
On Wed, 2006-23-08 at 20:10 -0400, Rod Giffin wrote:
> Woogie wrote:
> > I don't think the issue is with DU bullets. The DU rounds that are in
> > question are typically tank or artillery shells. The issue that gets
> > brought up is that the rounds will fragment and powder on impact,
> > contaminating the battlefield. Then, just like cluster munitions or
> > minefields, some civilian gets the short end of the stick weeks,
> > months, or years after combat is finished by breathing some heavy
> > metal into his/her lungs. Radioactive or not, the human body doesn't
> > take kindly to elements of that nature being inhaled or ingested.
> > Sorry I don't have any references handy.
> There's a bit more. The rounds are radioactive, just quite a bit less
> radioactive than U-238 (60%), with a half-life of 4.some odd billion
> Depleted uranium is also highly oxidizable, and can actually combust in
> it's powdered form - which is why the issue with the powdering upon
> impact. DU rounds used by the various tank corps, and anti-tank
> batteries are actually designed to penetrate the armour, and due to the
> kinetic energy released powder upon entry, and then explode -
> incinerating the tank crew inside the target even though the tank is
> disabled by the penetration. Further, uranium in this powdered form is
> soluble in air, and water, which produces uranium salts, which are
> highly toxic. And, actually the issue is with bullets *and* artillery.
> Most DU ammunition is 30mm or less in caliber, which often ends up
> sprayed around a battlefield almost willy-nilly.
> Nasty stuff, but, there are 20 countries known to use depleted uranium,
> so don't blame it all on the US.
Break it down by tonnage actually deposited on foreign soil in war
action and I bet the U.S. takes first prize by quite a bit.
Nevertheless, I don't doubt that there might be 20 countries who have
purchased some. Any nation with a nuclear bomb production program will
have the stuff left over to get rid of.
Most of the bad stuff has been covered, except nobody has mentioned the
"Gulf War Syndrome" which is caused by DU. Canadian troops have been
tested and every one that had the Gulf War Syndrome had high levels of
DU in their system. This information has been supressed in the U.S. and
I haven't heard it lately in Canada either. Nobody mentions even the
Gulf War Syndrome anymore, but it must still be happening.
<http://www.llrc.org/indexpage.htm> somewhat related.
Uranium is also "pyrophoric", which means that it burns upon contact
with air. It is used to line "shaped charge" armour piercing rounds in
such a manner that the plasma stream created by the explosive had
vapourized DU as it's principle component. Staged penetrators fist hit
with a high velocity kinetic energy round which opens a primary path.
The shaped charge penetrates into the hole created and is timed to
detonate at the optimum point to further the damage. This is the bunker
busting strategy. It is used not just in tank rounds but also in cruise
The DU is heavy, but the finely divided oxide dust can be carried on the
wind for hundreds of miles. Cancer rates in affected countries are much
higher than elsewhere. I seem to remember something about birth defects
too, but I don't remember where it was said.
unclefred at fredwilliams.ca
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