A special investigation by Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News has found four of nine soldiers of the 442nd Military Police Company of the New York Army National Guard returning from Iraq tested positive for depleted uranium contamination. They are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict.
After repeatedly being denied testing for depleted uranium from Army doctors, the soldiers contacted The News who paid to have them tested as part of their investigation.
Testing for uranium isotopes in 24 hours’ worth of urine samples can cost as much as $1,000 each.
In a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, three of the contaminated soldiers speak out.
Army officials at Fort Dix and Walter Reed Army Medical Center are now rushing to test all returning members of the 442nd. More than a dozen members are back in the U.S. but the rest of the company, mostly comprised of New York City cops, firefighters and correction officers, is not due to return from Iraq until later this month.
After learning of The News’ investigation, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) blasted Pentagon officials yesterday for not properly screening soldiers returning from Iraq.
Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she will write to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanding answers and soon will introduce legislation to require health screenings for all returning troops.
Depleted Uranium is considered to be the most effective anti-tank weapon ever devised. It is made from nuclear waste left over from the making nuclear weapons and fuel. The public first became aware the US military was using DU weapons during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. But it had been used as far back as the 1973 Yom Kippur war in Israel.
Amid growing controversy in Europe and Japan, the European Parliament called last year for a moratorium on its use.
- Sgt. Herbert Reed, assistant deputy warden at Rikers Island with 442nd military police company of New York Army National Guard. He did not test positive for depleted uranium, but has uranium 236, a uranium isotope not found in nature.
- Sgt. Agustin Matos, was deployed in Iraq with the 442nd Military Police. He is among the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict.
- Sgt. Hector Vega, among the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict.
- Dr. Asaf Durakovic, colonel in army reserves who served in first Gulf War. He is one of the first doctors to discover unusual radiation levels in Gulf War veterans. He has since become a leading critic of the use of depleted uranium in warfare. He tested the nine men at the request of the Daily News.
- Leonard Dietz, retired physicist from Knolls Atomic Laboratory in upstate New York. Pioneered the technology to isolate uranium isotopes.
Read Juan Gonzalez’ Exclusive Reports in the New York Daily News:
Related Democracy Now! Coverage:
- Radiation is 1,000 Times the Normal Levels Where US Troops Used Depleted Uranium Shells in Baghdad__
- U.S. Reportedly Fires DU Shells in Basra: Despite Evidence of Health and Environmental Effects, Pentagon Denies DU Is Dangerous__
- Part 2 of Our Discussion On Depleted Uranium, with the Scientific Secretary with the European Committee On Radiation Risk, and a U.N. Human Rights Lawyer__