Secondary Contamination is now progressively underway in Gaza

by PT Editor Nour Scardina


_46069036_icrc_house766x511USA, August 4, 2009 (Pal Telegraph)- It is with horror to learn that the UNDP has started clearing the rubble from Gaza. "The task of pulverizing the pieces of broken concrete will begin in eight days". Do they really understand what they are doing and do the Gazan's, who will be doing most of this work, fully understand the high risk associated with this badly planned clean up.

We have already discussed in previous articles that photographic evidence of weapons containing uranium have been analysed by a US expert. A British Prof Chris Busby has also obtained samples from Gaza (an air filter from an ambulance and also a missile crater) and reported his initial findings as follows: "I have had these analysed here, at Harwell and in Sweden and they show the presence of uranium at levels higher than the Lebanon filter. There is both enriched and depleted uranium in different portions of the material, very strange; the actual isotope ratios vary and we are also using CR39 analysis. The results are not fully written up yet and need some thinking about, but there is certainly uranium in Gaza from weapons usage".We have (over many years) experienced the gross neglect by those who pollute to carry out their obligations (under international law) to decontaminate and clean up respective locations around the world. One can draw reference to Iraq which has probably witnessed the worse ever contamination by weapons containing uranium. It has left them with an almost impossible decontamination task with unprecedented levels of suffering by its people with extremely high levels of many forms of cancer, diabetes and birth defects etc. The United States has totally refused to accept its responsibility in cleaning up the contamination it has left behind.

It is ironic that back in 1991 an accident occurred at Camp Doha in Kuwait that resulted in the US having to clean up a contaminated site and ship it all back to the United States for disposal Here is an extraction from that report compiled by R. I. Scherpelz, R. J. Traub, J. G. Droppo and M. A. Parkhurst: Depleted Uranium Exposures to Personnel Following Camp Doha Fire, Kuwait, July 1991, which was prepared for and edited by the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine.

The scenarios attempt to describe conservative but reasonable exposure conditions that may have existed at Camp Doha. During the fire, personnel may have inhaled DU that was entrained in the smoke plume from the fire. After the fire, personnel may have handled DU penetrators and ingested or inhaled DU-containing dust during the decontamination and cleanup activities that occurred in the months following the fire.

gaza-destructionThe exposure scenario for the decontamination and cleanup activities consists of four major activities. The first activity involved the recovery work that preceded decontamination and cleanup. During this activity, DU was suspended in the air by wind erosion. The second activity involved the removal of DU oxide piles formed from burned DU penetrators. The third activity involved sweeping of the contaminated area, an action that would have caused DU dusts to be suspended in air. The fourth activity involved sweeping of the contaminated area a second time, during which, remaining DU would again have been suspended in the air by the sweeping action. After the second sweeping, essentially all DU was removed from the area.Dr Doug Rokke - Former Director of the U.S. Army's Depleted Uranium Project reported on this accident as follows: During the summer of 1991, the United States military had collected artillery, tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, conventional and unconventional munitions, trucks, etc. at Camp Doha in Kuwait. As result of carelessness this weapons depot caught fire with consequent catastrophic explosion resulting in death, injury, illness and extensive environmental contamination from depleted uranium and conventional explosives. The Emirate of Kuwait required the United States Department of Defense to remove the contamination. Consequently, over 6,700 tons of contaminated soil sand and other residue was collected and has been shipped back to the United States for burial by American Ecology at Boise Idaho.

As we can see from past experience you cannot just decide to bulldoze and clean up a radioactive site. One must first evaluate the severe consequences of secondary contamination from DU dust aerosols created from such activity. The first urgent step to be taken is for a qualified UNEP team to come to Gaza and commence exhaustive tests within the Gaza Strip to identify the extent of the uranium contamination. After this assessment has been completed to then take the correct measures of dealing with a radioactive contaminated site as per UNEP standard practises.

Constraints to decontamination: Based on the experience of UNEP's sample results, it is very difficult to achieve comprehensive detection and complete decontamination of DU at a given site. Even after thorough decontamination efforts have been conducted, some contamination points may remain. This finding has to be considered in the planning of future DU work and in the selection of decontamination methods and land use planning options at affected sites (Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 2002).

Air contamination risks: Any work carried in or around contaminated sites will cause secondary contaminations. The UNEP covered this topic in the above reports when they stated "possibility of low-level air contamination occurring as a consequence of future soil disturbance, especially major construction works".

10699-220x220The report made the following recommendations:

The appropriate authorities should undertake investigations using field measurement equipment suitable for (a) making complementary searches for possible widespread ground contamination of significance, and (b) detecting the presence of penetrators, jackets (penetrator covers) and contamination points on the ground surface, as recommended in this report. At the same time, the feasibility of any necessary clean-up and decontamination measures should be assessed.

It finally quotes:

"Planning for any future decontamination involving soil disturbance or removal of vegetation should consider the risk of DU dispersion in air and inhalation of DU dust"

All claims regarding health deterioration allegedly caused by exposure to DU should be immediately addressed by the relevant health authorities."

In conclusion I urge all the local health authorities in both Gaza and West Bank to keep detailed data of any significant rise in cancer related illnesses, diabetes, neurological, infertility and birth defects since the end of the conflict in January 2009. This is vital in order to draw comparisons between the pre attack statistics and the after attack statistics. One must also keep in mind that DU weapons have been used in the region, by the IDF, dating back to 1973 and up to the current time. One can only draw up a true comparison by going back to pre 1973 and then comparing to the post Cast Lead attack.


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