Replies inserted below within the original text
On Sat, 7 Aug 2004 15:42:17 +0200, Tamara Traubmann <[log in to unmask]>
> Questions forwarded by the Coalition of Women for Peace, a feminist NGO
> from Israel.
> ----- Original Message ----- From: smamit To: Coalition of Women for
> Peace Sent: Friday, August 06, 2004 11:17 PM
> Subject: [CWJP] Re: Hiroshima and Depleted Uranium
> I understand from the materials sent that (1) Depleted Uranium is widely
> used in conventional weapons as coating and armor piercing material. (2)
> this material is radioactive and toxic to humans and the environment.
> (1) is widely documented and admitted by "officials", including in
> (2) is known from reports of soldiers and civilians who suffer from the
> after effects of bombings, and mostly denied by "officials".
> my questions - to whoever knows anything about it or knows where I can
> find answers:
The International Action Center has focused on DU and you can find DU
mentioned throughout several of the broader anti-nuclear education sites
> a. how depleted is the depleted uranium used here? i.e., what is the % of
> U235 in the alloy?
"Depleted Uranium" is a convenient mis naming based upon how it is
described relative to the enrichment processes used for producing either
nuclear power plant fuel or plutonium for bombs. The percentage of U235
has been reduced in the DU such that the enrichment process increases the
normal levels of U235 from about 3% upto about 7%, which increases its
radioactivity as a fissionable material. I not seen what the levels of
U235 are in the DU material, either in the UF6 or the UO3 forms. It is
probably inaccurate to call it an "alloy," since it is not combined with
another metal. The metal form is produced from the oxide form
> b. the same question in another form: how radioactive is the damn thing?
> because if I remember my physics, U238 is considered "safe" for human
> handling, below hazardous levels. and this is the "official" excuse. c.
> or is it the inhalation of particles that makes what little gamma
> radiation there is so much more potent?
The hazards of DU are typically under rated for several reasons, corporate
profits and military abstractions toward dominance are two. I believe that
U238 is mostly an alpha emitter which as such is less pentrating than the
gamma form of radiation, but still radioactive. An important part of DU's
toxicity comes from it being a heavy metal, kindred to arsenic or lead
which once it is inhaled as dust, picked up by skin contact or otherwise
brought into living bodies is very difficult to remove and will simply keep
producing its radiation when it is established within living tissue. That
they call it Depleted Uranium is primarily with reference to the efficiency
of the enrichment technologies. Both the gaseous diffusion process and the
centrifuge based processes are partial technologies intended to enrich the
raw ore to a fissionable concentration.
> d. or maybe it is toxic also for some other reasons, and not only
Safety is a really a question of how much contact. A small amount of
plutonium can supposedly be held safely in bare hands because it is not a
sufficient size to be fissonable.
Please, don't consider this to be authoratative. There is probably better
information available elsewhere, but this should advance the process. Tadit
> Coalition of Women for a Just Peace
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