SECRET TOXIC WEAPONS TRANSPORTS EXPOSED
By John Tiffany
Anti-depleted uranium (DU) activists, who have been fighting for more than a year to prevent the renewal of a special “hazmat” exemption for the deadly substance, scored a big win recently when the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced its intent to let the special exemption lapse. The exemption permits the movement of highly toxic, radioactive DU on the highways without a DOT “radioactive” warning placard being displayed on the secret shipments.
The DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced plans to phase out the exemption over the next two years, transitioning to full compliance with hazardous materials regulations. The special exemption, technically known as DOT-E 9649, was first set up in 1986 and has been renewed on a biennial basis ever since.
The decision is important because the military has consistently denied that DU is toxic or a hazardous substance. The fact that the government now agrees with anti-DU activists is a major step in validating the belief that DU is behind a number of unexplained illnesses affecting U.S. soldiers and civilians in and around battlefields and a series of birth defects afflicting their offspring.
The poisonous DU ammunition has been used in the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Shipments of the material occur daily throughout America, on the highways, railways and waterways.
“The ruling against the Department of Defense shows that political activists in the U.S. can educate themselves and others on important technical issues and organize to petition governmental agencies to enforce the law. Moms, dads, teachers and ordinary people are speaking up about safety in our communities,” said Sunny Miller, of Traprock Peace Center, one of the organizations opposed to the renewal of the exemption.
The lethal lifespan of depleted uranium is more than 1 billion years. Not only has DU rendered large tracts of Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and parts of the United States uninhabitable forever, but also American GIs have been hit in vast numbers with a repeat of the “Gulf War Illness” that killed at least 12,000 Desert Storm veterans and disabled another 200,000 survivors, spouses and offspring.
Gulf War Illness is suspected to be caused by DU. Meanwhile, GIs are outraged to learn that their veterans benefits have been slashed during their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The effort to stop the renewal of DOT-E 9649 was initiated by four organizations: Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, of Poulsbo, Washington; Traprock Peace Center, of Deerfield, Massachusetts; Military Toxics Project, of Lewiston, Maine; and Nukewatch, of Luck, Wisconsin. Numerous other groups and individuals joined in lobbying against the exemption.