BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Friday, 5 January, 2001, 05:05 GMT
Briton 'victim of war syndrome'
British Army soldiers working as Nato peacekeepers in Kosovo
British peacekeepers "may have been exposed to depleted uranium"
A former army engineer is the first known British victim of so-called Balkan War syndrome, the BBC can reveal.

The syndrome, which produces leukaemia-like symptoms, has been blamed on depleted uranium weapons used by Nato peacekeepers in Bosnia. But the US Defence Department is adamant soldiers are not at risk.

Kevin Rudland, who lives near Hull, East Yorkshire, has lost his hair, suffers from chronic fatigue and has severe bowel problems after serving in Bosnia.

This is a big problem that they've got and they need to look into it quickly

Kevin Rudland

Six Italian soldiers who had been on peace missions to the former Yugoslavia have died of leukaemia, while France says four of its soldiers are being treated for the illness.

The cases have prompted governments across Europe to call for an investigation into the use of depleted uranium in cannon shells, first fired by American planes during the Gulf War in 1991.

Cancer screening

Mr Rudland, 41, claims contact with depleted uranium dust, a by-product of the nuclear industry, has caused his health problems.

He told the BBC: "It was only within the last year that it has come to my attention that it might be linked to the depleted uranium.
Kevin Rudland
Former army engineer Kevin Rudland has serious health problems

"This is a big problem that they've got and they need to look into it quickly.

"I may be the first in this country at the moment but I believe there are more that have not come forward or do not know yet."

The British government has refused to carry out tests on the shells which are being undertaken in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.

The government is also coming under pressure to screen all soldiers who served in Bosnia and Kosovo for cancer.

But the Ministry of Defence said it had no knowledge of any illness or death caused by depleted uranium.

An MoD spokesman said: "We are unaware of anything that shows depleted uranium has caused any ill health or death of people who served in Kosovo or Bosnia.

"It is a legitimate weapon to use. It's used against heavily armoured vehicles and it is a very important weapon."

He said depleted uranium was not used by British soldiers, only American troops.

Failing health

Mr Rudland, a married father-of-three, served as a British Army engineer from December 1995 to April 1996 in Bosnia before returning home and setting up his own business as an engineer.

Within a few months of returning home his hair fell out, he began to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, his teeth started to rot and he suffered from osteoarthritis.
us troops in desert
Gulf veterans believe they are at risk

His symptoms have not improved since then and he now sees a psychiatrist for psychological problems caused by his illness.

The US Defence Department has denied Nato peacekeepers in the Balkans were at risk from exposure to depleted uranium shells.

Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said the US military had carried out extensive studies into the use of the weapons during the Gulf War, and had found no evidence of a cancer or other health risk.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

Key stories



See also:

04 Jan 01 | Media reports
Uranium scare - what they said
04 Sep 00 | Health
Uranium 'threat' to Gulf veterans
05 Jan 01 | Europe
US denies risk to soldiers
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories