World NewsWorld press

Ex-US Airman on Depleted Uranium: ‘I Saw Disfigured Newborns & My Dad Dying From Cancer’

It is only a matter of time before Ukraine uses depleted uranium ammunition on the battlefield, if it hasn’t already. The United States and United Kingdom sent the radioactive shells to the Zelensky regime earlier this year, and the rounds have been spotted in warehouses near the frontlines.Following the costly failure of their “summer counteroffensive,” the Ukrainian military has begun desperately searching for “wonder weapons” to restore their battlefield fortunes.

Announcing the provision of DU rounds to Ukraine, Washington insisted in September that there’s nothing to worry about: the wonder-weapon is somewhat toxic, but overall harmless and fine. Rafael Grossi, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general, joined the chorus, asserting to the public that there are “no significant radiological consequences” from the use of depleted uranium shells.

These are barefaced lies, according to Damacio A. Lopez, a US Air Force veteran who founded the International Depleted Uranium Study Team and co-founded the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW).”He [Grossi] is part of the team, part of the team that promotes this project, use of these weapons, he is part and parcel of the superpowers that use it and making excuses for it and trying to convince the public that this is not a problem, as they do repeatedly here in this country. You asked what the people thought about this. Well, they haven’t been getting accurate information. And I tried my best to get that information out in Uranium Battlefields and go in and talk to all these countries and try to explain what was going on.

Damacio was one of the first Americans who raised the red flag about the disastrous consequences of the weapons. Since 1985, he has been seeking a global ban on depleted uranium arms, which are still not covered by international chemical or nuclear conventions, despite DU’s toxicity and radioactivity.

Sinister Black Cloud Over Socorro

Damacio was born in Socorro, a southern town in central New Mexico along the Rio Grande. Back in 1945, the Trinity nuclear test rocked the Jornada del Muerto Desert, only 36 miles southeast of his hometown. Damacio was only two years at that time, but later he became curious about radiation hazards.The Trinity blast wasn’t the only US nuclear experiment in the region. In 1985, when Lopez visited his parents in Socorro during the Christmas holidays, the first thing he heard on his arrival was the sound of very loud explosions less than two miles from his house. Explosions occurred regularly, making dishes rattle and causing cracks in the walls. But even more alarming was a dark black cloud hovering over the town after the blasts.”This was disturbing. And it wasn’t just my family It was all the families in Socorro. From the middle of Socorro, the city park, to where the explosions had taken place, is two miles. That’s up. And the prevailing winds come over the community every time one of these bombs goes off. And of course, people were very concerned about what was going on. And my Mom asked me to look into this. And so I did. I contacted the Board of Regents of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, who are responsible for these explosions. Because they had been testing different kinds of weapons there since 1946.”Lopez went to a Board of Regents meeting and asked about the explosions and dark clouds of smoke. But in response, he only got evasive answers.

Still, his efforts bore some fruit: one morning, he found five mysterious boxes in the front yard of his Socorro house. When he opened them, he found documents shedding light on the ongoing disaster.”Well, those boxes were full of information about depleted uranium and testing in Socorro, and their ideas and what they were doing. And it went way, way back, before 1972, explaining the development of these weapons and what they were trying to do and the different kinds of weapons they were experimenting with, like cluster bombs instead of using metal or tungsten or titanium. They would try depleted uranium and see how that worked. So they were doing these kinds of preliminary testing, along with two other laboratories in New Mexico, plus laboratories outside of New Mexico. They were all working together. And I saw all this information. It wasn’t just about Socorro. It was about worldwide testing with what was going on in Europe and who was testing these weapons and what kind of weapons they were testing.”He learned that the black cloud that he saw was radioactive and chemically toxic dust ejected into the atmosphere by depleted uranium blasts.Damacio decided to dig deeper. He knew that the exposure to nuclear materials could lead to health problems, so he went to the Health Department in Santa Fe and sought information about Socorro’s residents. The records gave him the shivers: over past years, the community’s health problems had piled up, with the number of cases of hydrocephalus, cancer, and birth defects higher than in the other counties around the state.This gruesome discovery prompted him to start researching the effects of depleted uranium contamination.

Horrific Effects of Exposure to Depleted Uranium

“I have a brother who’s bent over, and when he speaks, and he’s 10 years younger than me, something’s wrong with his spine,” Damacio said. “And his body is kind of flopped over. And when he looks at you, he looks like a turtle. He’s way down like this, and looks up. I mean, he’s normally about 5 ft 6 in. And now he looks like he’s about 4 ft. It’s a horrible sight. His teeth are all rotten. He’s the one who lives right next to the facility. You know, here’s the facility right here. Here’s my house. And here is a town. There’s a fence between us and it says ‘Keep out, government property.’ And so our family is very close, one of the closest homes to this faci Damacio A. Lopez 22:28

“My dad ended up dying from cancer,” the activist continued. “And it was a sad situation for us. And like I said earlier, the people there, when they realized the truth about what was going on, instead of saying, ‘Oh, we want to stop this,’ no, they’re saying, ‘What? What can we do to survive? How can we survive this thing?’ And well, they couldn’t leave. So they just stay. And over the years, refusing sometimes to even acknowledge the dangers around them, because I believe they have no other choice. And it’s dehumanizing for people to be in that situation.

In the late 1990s, Damacio was invited to Iraq by the nation’s authorities to speak at a conference on the depleted uranium weapons used in the country by the US during the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991). In 1993, Lopez and his fellows published the book Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad: Depleted Uranium Use by the US Department of Defense, looking into DU testing sites in the US and the Pentagon’s use of the weapons abroad. The US and its allies unleashed over 300 tons of DU in Iraq.

“Well, when I went to Iraq and I told the people, I want to see if what’s happening here is happening there as well. So I’m not only the victim, but I’m also a researcher and I want to have accurate information. I just don’t want to take other people’s word for things. And I don’t, and I never have. Maybe at the very beginning of my discovery I did that. But since then, I want to see the people involved in these situations.

“I found a lot of [health] related issues. At that conference that I went to, I learned a lot of things and I was one of the speakers at this conference. And so I was able to get studies from these medical people who had done a lot of studies on the people in Iraq and birth defects, cancers.

These were the top things that were going on in their country, and some of the cancers were the same cancers, the same cancer that my father died from. And a lot of other people in the town were having problems in Socorro with birth defects. So I was able to go into hospitals in Iraq to see for myself the people who were victims.”But the greatest shock for Damacio was Iraqi children who were born after the US bombing campaign. When he recalls them, he cannot hold back his tears.

Damacio A. Lopez 52:17© Sputnik”In one particular hospital I was able to see many, many children with birth defects that were so severe that it was so hard for me to think of them as even human.””I’m talking about very, very serious birth defects. Can you imagine walking into a place and seeing a child with one eye and his forehead? It’s like not even human. And I met this little boy. He was three years old.

He was with his mother and he had a big head, hydrocephalus. And one eye was turned up and his other eye was turned down. He was skin and bones. He was three years old, couldn’t weigh more than 20 pounds. And his head was huge. Little tiny, tiny legs. It’s almost skin and bone. And the mother was holding him and wiping the blood from his mouth. And as I was leaving the hospital, tears started streaming down my face. I couldn’t control it. It was so, so bad.

The little boy looked listless. Damacio thought for a moment that the toddler couldn’t see or hear. “And as I was leaving the room, I heard the little boy scream out: ‘Mama, mama!’ And it sent chills through my entire body.”If Damacio were told at the time that the US government would throw another thousand tons of depleted uranium on Iraq in just three weeks during the Second Gulf War, it would have stopped the researcher’s heart.

Geiger Counter Never Lies: DU Weapons are Radioactive

Lopez suspected that these hideous birth defects and the spike in cancer cases were caused by depleted uranium’s radioactivity and toxicity. Preparing for his Iraq trip, he took his Geiger counter. The radiation detector “could identify alpha, beta, and gamma, and could identify whether it was depleted uranium or something more hot than depleted uranium,” according to the researcher.While in Baghdad, Damacio visited the Amiriyah shelter, which was subjected to a US aerial attack that killed over 400 civilians, including children, on February 13, 1991.”It was quite a sight when I was looking at the blood and hairs of the people on the walls and the children. And then there was an area where they had all their pictures. I was there with the Japanese delegation in this particular visit.

And for them, it was common – it was not common, but they knew this well about the shadows on the wall and the hair and the blood from what happened in their country when they were bombed. So they understood all this.”“Eyewitnesses told me, more than one said to me: ‘Damacio, what happened here is… I saw this projectile. I saw this large Tomahawk cruise missile making curves around streets.

‘ And then, when they got to the Amiriyah shelter, they went up high, came straight down in the middle of the shelter that had three stories, three feet of concrete between the stories to protect the people in there. In this case, children. There were more than 600 kids and school kids in that shelter at this time. The missile came down from the middle of the shelter, went through, went all the way down to the bottom of the shelter, and then went into a deep hole there. I saw all this, and they’re watching it.”Lopez decided to find remnants of projectiles used during the US bombing of Baghdad and other areas and make measurements. He knew that typically, natural background radiation levels could range between five and 60 counts per minute, or a little more. Anything higher than that meant potential radioactive contamina

Damacio A. Lopez 61:42© Sputnik”I found in one of the facilities in Baghdad after going to the Amiriyah shelter, there was an exhibition, there was a big building and they had picked up all the war remnants that they had found. One of them was partially, about three quarters, a Tomahawk cruise missile.

And I had my detector and I checked it out. It was about a hundred counts per minute, which was an indication that there was radiation within this Tomahawk cruise missile.”Then he travelled to a site on the border between Kuwait and Iraq, dubbed the “Highway of Death,” where thousands of Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles were pierced and burned by DU munitions fired by US A-10 Warthogs.

There, he got readings of about 100-120 counts per minute on the holes of the damaged tanks. Lopez also collected small pieces of metal as samples that showed a reading of 600 counts per minute.”And I happened to find several projectiles, 30 millimeters, that had missed the target and hit the ground and bounced. And they were intact. So I checked them out with my detector, thinking I’m going to get 600 counts per minute.

I was getting 2,500 per minute on these projectiles, so high that my radiation detector wouldn’t go any higher than in its capabilities. And it would go ‘u-u-u-u,’ could have been higher than 2,400 counts per minute. And the only conclusion I could draw from that is that nuclear waste from nuclear facilities was being mixed with what was so-called depleted uranium. And this became even more alarming.”

DU Weapons are Made of Radioactive Waste

Lopez tried to find out why the US had decided to use depleted uranium for its ammo in the first place.Damacio’s book Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad: Depleted Uranium Use by the US Department of Defense explains that DU is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process by which the fissionable isotope uranium-235 (U235) is extracted from natural uranium for subsequent use as fuel for nuclear reactors.

Natural uranium, a silvery-grey metal, contains 0.7% U235, 99.3% U238, and a small amount of U234 by mass. After producing 85 kilograms of enriched uranium, one would get 915 kg of U238, or depleted uranium.The Pentagon argues that U238 retains “only” 60% of natural uranium’s radioactivity and emits alpha particles, which have low penetration depth and can be stopped by skin. Inside the body, however, alpha-emitters can be extremely harmful, damaging sensitive living tissue. After the explosion of DU projectiles, microscopic and light uranium dust can travel with the wind, be inhaled, swallowed, or enter the body through a wound, later causing cancer and chromosome damage.

One should bear in mind that depleted uranium is radioactive waste that should be disposed of, Lopez pointed out in his book. However, almost all DU tails have been saved by the US government since the early 1940s. Moreover, they can be purchased for commercial use, according to the researcher. To date, the US has accumulated a

اظهر المزيد

مقالات ذات صلة

اترك تعليقاً

لن يتم نشر عنوان بريدك الإلكتروني. الحقول الإلزامية مشار إليها بـ *

زر الذهاب إلى الأعلى