Radioactive contamination of the Afghan population

Pro memoria

Another country as a test field for bunker busting bombs with enriched and depleted uranium

Excerpt from: Doug Westermann. Depleted Uranium: Far worse than 9/11. Current Concerns No 3/4 from July 2006

cc. After the massive air raids with bunker busting weapons on Afghanistan in December 2001 and in March 2002, the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC), headed by Professor Asaf Durakovic, decided to conduct direct field studies in the war zone in the east of the country in May 2002. In 1997, Durakovic together with like-minded people, had founded the UMRC as an independent non-profit organization with the objective, to provide expert and scientific and medical research into the effects of uranium, transuranium elements, and radionuclides produced by the process of uranium decay and fission. The UMRC has funded itself through donations and through foundations of surviving dependants, whose relatives, after war deployments, fell ill with radiation injuries and died.
Prior to that, Durakovic, professor of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, had been working in the field of radiation biology for more than 30 years in England, Canada and the USA. He is considered an expert in all areas of his faculty. His extensive experience includes research into nuclear disaster medicine in the US, Canada, Europe, Middle East and Asia. His work also found the appreciation of the Defense Nuclear Agency, the research center of the US Army.
Since 1988 the Pentagon had consulted Colonel Durakovic as an expert. Among others he served as the United States Medical Team Leader in the American-Soviet Joint Nuclear Verification Experiment in Central Asia.
As Chief of the Nuclear Sciences Division, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Wilmington Vet Center, Wilmington, Delaware, he was charged with investigating US veterans who suffered from the Gulf War Syndrome. They had been stationed in Saudi Arabia and were dealing with tanks that had been destroyed by “friendly fire”, that is, by bombarding the armored DU ammunition of their own troops. When he found DU in half of them and that some had even plutonium in their body, he was suggested to search in other directions. He did not let himself be deterred, but had to find out that hospitals and laboratory tests disappeared.
In 1997, the Pentagon abandonned him. Together with like-minded people he put the investigation on his own expense and founded the UMRC. Despite harassment and threats, they continue to fight consistently against the disaster of the devastating effects of DU weapons.

Results of the field studies in Afghanistan

In May of 2002, the UMRC (Uranium Medical Research Center) sent a field team to interview and examine residents and internally displaced people in Afghanistan. The UMRC field team began by first identifying several hundred people suffering from illnesses and medical conditions displaying clinical symptoms which are considered to be characteristic of radiation exposure.
To investigate the possibility that the symptoms were due to radiation sickness, the UMRC team collected urine specimens and soil samples, transporting them to an independent research lab in England.
UMRC’s Field Team found Afghan civilians with acute symptoms of radiation poisoning, along with chronic symptoms of internal uranium contamination, including congenital problems in newborns. Local civilians reported large, dense dust clouds and smoke plumes rising from the point of impact, an acrid smell, followed by burning of the nasal passages, throat and upper respiratory tract. Subjects in all locations presented identical symptom profiles and chronologies. The victims reported symptoms including pain in the cervical column, upper shoulders and basal area of the skull, lower back/kidney pain, joint and muscle weakness, sleeping difficulties, headaches, memory problems and disorientation.
Two additional scientific study teams were sent to Afghanistan. The first arrived in June 2002, concentrating on the Jalalabad region. The second arrived four months later, broadening the study to include the capital Kabul, which has a population of nearly 3.5 million people. The city itself contains the highest recorded number of fixed targets during Operation “Enduring Freedom”. For the study’s purposes, the vicinity of three major bomb sites were examined. It was predicted that signatures of depleted or enriched uranium would be found in the urine and soil samples taken during the research. The team was unprepared for the shock of its findings, which indicated in both Jalalabad and Kabul, DU was causing the high levels of illness. Tests taken from a number of Jalalabad subjects showed concentrations 400% to 2000% above that for normal populations, amounts which have not been recorded in civilian studies before.
Those people in Kabul who were directly exposed to US-British precision bombing showed extreme signs of contamination, consistent with uranium exposure. These included pains in joints, back/kidney pain, muscle weakness, memory problems and confusion and disorientation. Those exposed to the bombing report symptoms of flu-type illnesses, bleeding, runny noses and blood-stained mucous.
How many of these people will suffer a painful and early death from cancer? Even the study team itself complained of similar symptoms during their stay. Most of these symptoms last for days or months.
In August of 2002, UMRC completed its preliminary analysis of the results from Nangarhar. Without exception, every person donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium contamination. The specific results indicated an astoundingly high level of contamination; concentrations were 100 to 400 times greater than those of the Gulf War Veterans tested in 1999. A researcher reported: “We took both soil and biological samples, and found considerable presence in urine samples of radioactivity; the heavy concentration astonished us. They were beyond our wildest imagination.”

Fall 2002: 30% of those interviewed suffer from radiation sickness

In the fall of 2002, the UMRC field team went back to Afghanistan for a broader survey, and revealed a potentially larger exposure than initially anticipated. Approximately 30% of those interviewed in the affected areas displayed symptoms of radiation sickness. New born babies were among those displaying symptoms, with village elders reporting that over 25% of the infants were inexplicably ill.
How widespread and extensive is the exposure? A quote from the UMRC field report reads:
“The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by uranium.”
In Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, UMRC lab results indicated high concentrations of NON-DEPLETED URANIUM, with the concentrations being much higher than in DU victims from Iraq. Afghanistan was used as a testing ground for a new generation of “bunker buster” bombs containing high concentrations of other uranium alloys.
“A significant portion of the civilian population”? It appears that by going after a handful of terrorists in Afghanistan we have poisoned a huge number of innocent civilians, with a disproportionate number of them being children.    •