Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Italian Troops exposed to depleted uranium

It looks as if Italian troops are being sent to pick up the pieces of depleted uranium bombs dropped by the US and UK in various parts of the world. Are Italians, once again, being treated as expendible third world soldiers?
“We handle depleted uranium bombs with bare hands”. This is what Italian soldiers said in 1993.

A military document demonstrates that radioactive bombs are kept in Italian bases with little attention to health and safety.

This is a story about silence. Silence about the fact that Italian soldiers pick up the depleted uranium bombs that were fired in war zones. This certainly happened in Somalia, it could have happened in Iraq with the NBC (nuclear, bacteriological, chemical) forces, who were stationed at Bassora. The troops in Somalia collected pieces of radioactive material, together with sand, from where the bombs fell. They put this material into metal containers and transported it to Italy, where the contaminated material was dealt with by workmen, often unprotected.

And they didn’t choose to do this.

L’Unione Sarda newspaper got hold of a 2001 military document which proved that the soldiers had been handling depleted uranium bombs, without knowing that that was what they were.

This document is a request for health checks from the artificieri (whose names have been covered up to protect them) from a base in Tuscany. The document is addressed to those in command, requesting that the organization responsible for carrying out health checks should carry out these checks.

These are the key passages from the document, (the signs that appear at the beginning indicate, according to NATO codes, perforating anti tank depleted uranium bombs: the brackets are in the original).

“As far as depleted uranium is concerned the personel specified here were working with anti tank bombs from Lot 105/51 mm APFS/DS-T-DM33 (depleted uranium) and with explosive and non-explosive material (including sacks of sand and various materials). These materials were brought back from other areas (areas at risk) in containers and military vehicles to be counted and deposited in a temporary store, prior to being taken back to the deposit.

We would like to bring to your attention the fact that when the work was carried out on the sum total of the bombs returning from Somalia, the outer shells, when they returned to the munitions deposit, showed signs of having been under water and they were malformed, so that it was difficult to establish which of the bombs, or how many of them, were in good condition, without a more detailed examination.

In order to accertain whether the bombs were still usable, the workers opened the boxes and containers and took the bombs out. Then they cleaned the shells and the bombs with wire wool where they were oxidised. Then they polished the shells and bombs with vaseline oil and jute cloth, after which they put them back into their containers, now clean and perfect.

The conclusion of our request is: the personel who carried out this work did it without taking any precautions because they thought they were dealing with materials that were the same as any other materials in the store. We await a detailed response and the health checks that we requested and thank you for your attention. 12/01/2001

Yours faithfully

The artificiere personel

The Ibis Mission in Somalia began in December 1992 and ended in January 1994. Eleven Italian soldiers lost their lives there.

The work on the bombs and contaminated sand was carried out in January 2001.
The reason for this was: when questions were raised in parliament on the 21st Dec 2000 concerning the illnesses and deaths possibly caused by depleted uranium, (reported by the Unione Sarda and Libero newspapers), the minister of defence, Sergio Mattarella (Ulivo party, under the government of Giuliano Amato) admitted that 10,800 radioactive bombs were dropped in Bosnia, but denied that these munitions were used in the poligono of Teulada (Somalia?)

In a few days soldiers of the 7th Regiment NBC stationed at Civitavecchia will be in Iraq. Will they be bringing anything back to Italy? Where will it be stored?


Contaminated sand and fragments of the bombs that were fired during the war in Somalia in 1993.
By Marco Mostallino. From L’Unione Sarda, 29 March 2003

The waste 'repository' at Drigg is almost full - radioactive waste is now being refused entry

Radioactive waste is now being refused entry from, for example, Chapel Cross, who want to dump the decommissioned magnox plant - contaminated soil and rubble into Cumbria.

Even the pro nuke MP Jamie Reed is opposed to nuke dump sites away from the Sellafield site in other parts of Cumbria.
The nuclear industry wants to dispose of 12 lorries a day of radioactive wastes in the former open cast coal mine of Keekle Head - near to the source of the river Keekle (recently featured on BBC Countryfile as an
important salmon river worth millions to the Cumbrian economy).

The radioactive wastes would leach into the land and there would be adverse impact on the environment and health of residents - cynically called "receptors" by the industry.

The planning meeting for radioactive waste in landfill will be heard on 22nd June at Kendal County Offices 11am.

The application is to put radioactive waste into Keekle Head - former open cast coal mine and near to the source of the River Keekle.

The planning application number is : 4/10/9001 Keekle Head

send a emails to: developmentcontrol@cumbriacc.gov.uk in opposition to this proposal.

or send letters to Development Control Team Cumbria County Council County Offices Kendal LA9 4RQ

Or Phone :01539 713066


useful bullet points here:

Keekle Head
'Endecom UK Ltd' are proposing to put forward a Planning Application for a Radioactive Waste dump at Keekle Head in West Cumbria (5 miles inland from Whitehaven).

One Million Cubic Metres of Waste
Endecom plan to send 12 lorry loads of radioactive waste a day to the site - in total one million cubic metres will travel through Cumbria's roads.

Endecom Describe Local People as "Receptors"
The Company accept that if their planned dump goes ahead there will be risks to local people, as radioactivity will dissolve, get into the water supply - and reach the local population.

Endecom refer to the people who would become contaminated as 'receptors' .
Endecom have no idea of likely Risk

The risk assessment for the proposal has not yet been carried out.
Thirty five radionuclides have been listed as likely to be present - but these have not been assessed.

Planning System + Fast-Tracking of Projects
Recent changes to the planning regime - brought in to speed up project development will drastically limit the opportunity for local people and councils to scrutinise proposals. Therefore - given that the risks of this project are unknown, this is just the wrong time for the project to be put forward.

Minimal Jobs
Although the project would employ 50 people during construction, after this, during operation, the project would only provide 15 jobs.

Threat to Fish
Cumbria's rivers bring in a revenue of £60M from fish stocks -the River Keekle is an important salmon migratory route.


Endecom - 'Proposed Keekle Head Waste Management Centre' - Six Page Brochure., Summer 2009
Note received from Doug Allan for Endecom - setting out answers received from Rob Scott of Nuvia (to questions sent from Dr Rachel Western - Nuclear Researcher for Friends of the Earth [Cumbria groups] ) 7th September 2009

Endecom Note - 7th Sept 2009 (See above)

NDA / DEFRA Radioactive Waste Inventory (2007) - See 'Detailed Data on Sellafield - Waste Stream 2D148 High Volume Very Low Level Waste from Final Decommissioning (HVVLLW) pp413 418 [NB - to locate this page from the 2007 Inventory CD, click 'Detailed Data' Box, then 'Waste Stream Data Sheets', then 'Nuclear Decommissioning Authority', then 'Sellafield', finally search for 2D148 - by typing this into the 'find' box in the top left hand side of the screen.

Edecom refer to the 2D148 waste stream [High Volume Very Low Level Waste from Final Decommissioning (HVVLLW) ] in their 7th Sept 2009 note Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor - The Times - "Infrastructure change 'will fast-track planning'" - 1st October 2009


£60M Cumbrian Rivers - BBC Countryfile April

French antinuclear network “Sortir du nucléaire” supports nuclear industry subcontractor and whistleblower Philippe Billard

French antinuclear network “Sortir du nucléaire” supports nuclear industry subcontractor and whistleblower Philippe Billard

Philippe Billard, trade unionist, subcontracts for the nuclear industry. He has already been exposed to radiation while working in nuclear power plants and will be heard by the industrial tribunal of Rouen on 1st June. As a spokesperson of the organisation “Santé / Sous-traitance” (“Health and Subcontracting”), he has undergone some retaliation measures after having denounced workers exposure to radiation. As a whistleblower, he’s now treated as persona non grata in nuclear power plants. His employer refuses to re-instate him at his previous job, in contradiction with the Labour Inspectorate’s recommendations.

The French antinuclear network “Sortir du nucléaire”, which gathers about 880 organisations, firmly condemns the nuclear industry as life-threatening and opaque, and considers Philippe Billard’s ousting as a means to put pressure on whistleblower workers. “Sortir du nucléaire” decided to bring its support to the workers who, just like Philippe Billard, suffer from the unbearable working conditions imposed by the nuclear industry and undergo irradiation without even receiving appropriate health care.

To protect its corporate image, EDF chose to give subcontractors the most dangerous tasks. These people working in the shadows have insecure jobs and are mostly temporary and/or nomad workers. Every year, 25,000 to 30,000 of them are made to carry out tasks where they are exposed to radiations. This system allows EDF to cover up a huge health scandal, since these subcontractors, who get 80% of the annual collective dose from the whole French nuclear park, are not taken into account in epidemiological surveys[1] !

EDF is shamelessly multiplying talks on transparency while hushing up workers whistle blowing about the imminent catastrophe. In the ageing French nuclear park, the accident risk is increasing, all the more since maintenance periods are shortened in order to save time and money. However, the official motto remains “Nothing to report”[2]. Short-term profits are more important than common safety and security.

The nuclear industry lets a permanent accident risk hang over populations and sacrifices workers’ health. It is high time to reduce our electricity consumption and to shift towards more sustainable ways of producing energy, which threaten neither the workers nor the people and create far more jobs[3], clean, safe and spread nationwide.

In support with Philippe Billard and all the workers suffering in the nuclear industry, the network “Sortir du nucléaire” calls to join the trade union gathering on June, the 1st at 8: 30 , in front of the tribunal (2, place de la Madeleine, Rouen, Normandy)

Further information (in French) on : http://groupes.sortirdunucleaire.org/blogs/sante-et-sous-traitance/

[1] Annie Thébaud-Mony, « L’industrie nucléaire organise le non-suivi médical des travailleurs les plus exposés », Imagine, May-June 2007

[2] See the movie « R.A.S. Nucléaire : Rien à signaler » by Alain de Halleux, 2009

[3] As an example, more than 300 000 jobs have been created in Germany in renewable energy and energy efficiency since the 2000 Renewable Energy Bill.

Réseau "Sortir du nucléaire" / French Nuclear Phaseout Network

Federation gathering 876 NGOs and organizations