Mark Palermo

Depleted Uranium Weapons
He Was Our S.O.B.
Long Ago Saturday Nights at the Circle 9
The Dark Side of Vaccinations
Wine: Where Ignorance and Pretension Find their Loudest Voice
A 1976 Journey in Search of Self
The Machinery of Mass Dreams
The Outlaw Georgie Bush
Sex Offender Registries Out of Control
Extreme Makeover for Airheads
The Fault Lies not in the Stars, but in Ourselves
Reconsidering George Carlin
If You Think Liberals Are Jerks...
She Couldn't Do Her Chores
Remembering Viktor Frankl
One Day on the Farm-1977
A Fresh Look at Meat
How the Real World Works: A Lesson
30 Bucks for the Human Touch
1929 All Over Again
An Old Man's War, A Young Man's Fight
More Things in Heaven and Earth...
Our Dumbed-down Public Discourse
Bread, But No Roses
Earth's the Right Place for Love
Read This Before Enlisting
Poison Is Good for You: The Fluoridation Scam
Ron Paul:He Makes Too Much Sense
War Is a Racket
Brazil's National Orgasm Day
Calling all Liberals!
Why I Don't Get Flu Shots
What is Community?
Haverhillicus Homocrisicum
If You Wanna Be a Junkie, Why?
Do We Know His Family?
Scam: Youth Sports
A Subsidy for the Human Touch?
How Not to Be Boring
If the Bread and Roses Strike Were NOW
America's Problem with the Body
Columbus Day? or Renaissance Day?
Depleted Uranium Weapons
Mitt Romney: A Clintonian Republican
A Checklist for Conservatives
On Torture and Torturers
Pimp of the Nation
Romney is a Jerk
Hypocrisy and its Champions
The Dumb Society
The Men's Taverns of Yesteryear
On Dittoheads!
Let China Sleep
2004 McDebates
Animal Rights Page
US Wealth Distribution Chart
Public Grief, Private Lives


If your employer made you drive around in vehicles made from uranium, handle uranium without protection, and breathe uranium dust mixed with traces of plutonium, would you be surprised if, in a few years, you started to have health problems like cancer, chronic fatigue, kidney damage, and neurological and chromosomal damage? If you questioned the cause of your malaise, would you be surprised if your employer told you that uranium was a harmless natural substance? And that your health problems were unrelated to your job?

Since Desert Storm, the United States and Britain have been using ammunition, shells and tank armor made from depleted uranium (DU). According to the U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute, "Iraq and northern Kuwait were a virtual testing range for depleted-uranium weapons. Over 940,000 30-millimeter uranium tipped bullets and more than 14,000 large caliber DU rounds were consumed during Operation Desert Storm/ Desert Shield." Estimates for DU use in Desert Storm are about 300 -350 tons of DU, while the current war in Iraq is around 1500 tons. Dr. Asaf Durakovia, then Chief of Nuclear Medicine for the Veterans Administration said after Desert Storm, "Due to the current proliferation of DU weaponry, the battlefield of the future will be unlike any battlefields in history."

While the use of the word "depleted" uranium is technically correct, it can be misleading. A byproduct of nuclear power production, DU is about 60% as radioactive as natural uranium, but with a half-life of four and a half billion years. Natural uranium can be ingested in food and drink and get expelled from the body within 24 hours. DU-contaminated dust however, is problematic. When breathed into the lungs, it can remain for many years, causing a wide range of serious health problems.

One of the biggest players in the processing of DU from as far back as the 1950's was a military contractor called Nuclear Metals of Concord, Massachusetts, later renamed Starmet. Now bankrupt, Starmet dumped uranium, berrylium, and other toxins on its 46-acre site located at 2229 Main St., polluting the groundwater. Land as far as a mile away contains radioactive soil. The pond and surrounding land are currently the site of a controversial Superfund cleanup.
There are economic and military advantages to the use of DU. First, it is one of the densest materials in the world. And nobody argues that DU ammunition and shells are extremely effective in piercing tank armor and bunkers, after which a DU round disintegrates into tiny aerosol particles and bursts into flame. Economically, DU is very cheap and a large supply is readily available.

The downside is DU's catastrophic effect on health of our own troops, which the military denies. Of the 697, 000 soldiers that participated in Desert Storm in 1991, 207,000 are receiving disability compensation. (Veterans Benefit Administration Report, May 2002) This comes to a staggering 30%. (these three-year-old figures are almost certainly higher at present.) These vets are still young men and women now in their mid-thirties, an age when they should be in the prime of their health and strength. Many possible causes have been suggested such as the inhalation of oil fire smoke, vaccination damage, exposure to bioagents, nerve gas, pesticides, etc. all of which most likely contribute to what is loosely termed "Gulf War Syndrome," but some have theorized that Gulf War Syndrome is a form of radiation sickness mixed in various proportions with exposures to this toxic mélange of substances.

History is repeating itself. Remember those GIs in the 1950's, who were paraded out to the desert and told to face the direction of atomic bomb blasts, only to come down with cancer later in life? Then they faced the arrogance of their own government, who sought to deny responsibility for the broken health of these men. It all happened again a generation later with Agent Orange and the devastation it caused those who returned from Viet Nam.

An actively participating American citizenry should demand an open discourse on the use of depleted uranium- instead of the dialogue being closed off and displaced with administrative mandates. Thomas Jefferson said, "I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education." This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

Amidst the denials and projections that will surely follow, the use of depleted uranium will be a bitter pill indeed. Uranium ammunition. Broken health. Expendable people. Depleted uranium is bad idea that nobody talks about.


from Merrimack Valley Patriot, August 2005