by Andrew Walden
Bananas are more radioactive than depleted uranium. Tobacco, marijuana, chocolate, cocaine, heroin, and the human body all emit higher levels of gamma and beta radiation—the most powerful types-- than depleted uranium. Rather than being a radiation source, depleted uranium is used as a radiation shield used to block emissions from nuclear reactors. Smart smugglers of drugs, tax-free cigarettes and illegal aliens would all be wise to use a DU enclosure to prevent the gamma radiation emitted by their illicit cargo (or passengers) from being detected at border checkpoints.
Launching the campaign, Big Island Weekly pointed out in 2007 that the anti-DU hype was based on observations in South Kona by activists armed with a $399.00 “Gamma Scout” Geiger counter. Allegedly the readings of “63 counts per minute” cited by Big Island Weekly indicated that “we might have a Gulf War in our backyards” and underlines “suspicion that DU is being used on Hawai`i.”
As usual, the truth lies elsewhere. According to its manufacturer, the “Gamma Scout” cannot detect beta radiation below 0.2MeV (mega electron volts). It cannot detect gamma radiation below 0.02 MeV. Depleted uranium emits beta at 0.01MeV and gamma radiation at 0.001 MeV—one-twentieth the “Gamma Scout” thresholds. Thus none of the beta or gamma radiation the activists read can possibly come from depleted uranium. A third type, known as alpha radiation, is so weak that it is stopped by a single sheet of paper or a few inches of atmosphere.
In attempting to prove DU is dangerous, the activists in fact proved the opposite. They have discovered what any junior high school physics student already knows—the world is naturally bathed in background radiation. This background radiation is far stronger than anything depleted uranium could ever emit
In a failed effort to win passage of a DU soil testing bill in the Hawai`i State legislature in 2007, Marti Townsend of the pseudo-environmentalist group “KAHEA” wrote in Legislative committee testimony, “According to the International Atomic Energy Agency exposure to DU – especially when inhaled – triggers mutation of genes is linked to extreme and debilitating birth defects, nervous system disorders, terminal kidney disease, and many types of cancer. The DU at Schofield Barracks poses a threat to the majority of O`ahu residents.”
Wrong. The IAEA, explains, “The most detailed ongoing study on the health effects of DU exposure is of 33 friendly fire veterans of the Gulf War, most of whom have embedded DU shrapnel in their bodies that cannot be removed. To date none has developed any abnormalities due to uranium chemical toxicity or radio toxicity, despite showing greatly increased levels of uranium in their urine.”
“Gulf War Syndrome” afflicts hundreds or even thousands of veterans of the First Gulf War. Instead of searching for the causes and treatments, anti-DU propagandists use Gulf War Syndrome as an excuse to attack DU. They would have veterans believe that American use of DU must be the cause of Gulf-War Syndrome, ignoring the possibility that the disorders are caused by left over chemical munitions and residuals from the Iran-Iraq war, by poisons released in the hundreds of oil-well fires started in Kuwait under Saddam’s orders, or by multiple causes.
Not only is DU less radioactive than bananas but it is also less toxic than lead. DU is so safe that is it used as a tail weights of up to 3300 lbs in commercial airplanes and as rotor balances on helicopters. There is more DU sitting on the tarmac at Keahole Airport than there ever will be at Pohakuloa. In ‘convincing’ the Council to oppose DU, Dr. Lorrin Pang compared the so-called dangers of DU to those of cigarettes—it is only dangerous when burned and inhaled. Many things are dangerous when burned and inhaled.
In spite of all of these inconvenient facts, the Hawai`i County Council July 2 voted 8-1 to heed a small group of anti-American war protesters who demanded that American soldiers preparing for combat not train on the Big Island until the phony non-existent threat of depleted uranium is dealt with.
The one saving grace of the Hawai`i County Council is that it is entirely impotent. It has absolutely no authority over the military and it never will. Only Kohala council member Pete Hoffman was willing to stand up for the truth. Hoffman points out that the Waiki`i Ranch Homeowners Association, located in his district near Pohakuloa Training Center, paid a lab to determine whether any depleted uranium was found in local soils. Naturally they found none, but they did find plenty of naturally occurring non-depleted uranium. This confirms what Hawai`i Free Press has been alone in saying for over two years now.
Depleted uranium is left after radioactive isotopes have been removed to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. It is valued as ammunition because its density allows DU shells to zip through the armor of Soviet T-71 tanks while ordinary munitions would ricochet off. This ability saves hundreds of American lives. Because of the expense and difficulty in finding enough DU, military personnel are not allowed to waste DU rounds in training. Most get to use DU ammo only when they first enter a combat zone.
Anybody who buys a home anywhere in the United States, including Hawai`i, is required to sign escrow forms acknowledging the dangers posed by radon gas. Radon is the nation’s second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a decay product of the radioactive isotopes contained in the natural non-depleted uranium found in the Earth’s crust.
University of Michigan researchers estimate that nation wide an average of 4,840 pounds of naturally occurring uranium is present in the top one foot of soil per square mile. If Hawai`i soils were average, over 31 million pounds of uranium are present in the top foot of soil state wide—all entirely natural.
Whenever grass fires blaze, many pounds of natural uranium particles burn and are released into the atmosphere. When drug addicts smoke crack cocaine or marijuana, they inhale radioactive potassium 40. But the council did not act to beef up the County Fire Department arson investigative unit. In spite of numerous suspicious West Hawai`i grass fires, the County only recently received its first arson sniffing dog as a gift from an insurance company. The Council also has not done much to reduce drug use in Hawai`i County, in fact they recently voted not to accept federal funding for ‘green harvest’ fights.
They follow whoever comes before them to put on a Stalinist agit-prop show. This is why voters say the council is going to be changed in the primary elections on September 20.