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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 19:19 GMT
Inquiry into uranium weapons
Sheel firing
Tests have been carried out at a Scottish firing range
The Ministry of Defence has announced an inquiry into the possible health effects of shells containing depleted uranium.

The announcement follows concerns about suspected side effects from depleted uranium (DU) shells fired into the Irish Sea from the Kirkudbright firing range in Galloway.

The tests involved firing hundreds of tonnes of the shells into cloth targets.

Firing range
Concerns have been raised about side effects
Depleted Uranium has been used in combat because of its improved abilities to penetrate armour over traditional ammunition.

The Ministry of Defence has rejected any conclusive link between cancer and the use of ammunition.

However, after recommendations by the Royal Society, it has now decided to conduct a study "to identify any links between exposure to DU and ill health", including a review of the "effects of DU inhalation on the pulmonary lymph nodes".

The MoD inquiry will cover the effects of used DU shells in soil and marine environments.

The inquiry will also investigate safer alternatives to the use of depleted uranium.

Water supplies

A recent report by the Royal Society said a small number of soldiers and civilians might suffer kidney damage from depleted uranium if substantial amounts are breathed in, or swallowed in contaminated soil and water.

The report recommended that soldiers who may have been exposed to depleted uranium should be tested for the presence of uranium in their kidneys and in their urine.

It also suggested that depleted uranium may contaminate water supplies - putting civilians at risk.


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See also:

22 May 01 | Sci/Tech
More research urged on DU
12 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Uranium weapons health warning
03 Jul 01 | Scotland
Uranium shell tests halted
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