FURTHER EVIDENCE OF ENRICHED URANIUM IN THE AIR IN LEBANON FOLLOWING THE RECENT CONFLICT
See http://www.llrc.org for outline, full report and pictures.
Part of the message of this report is that citizen groups can use simple, affordable and reliable techniques to monitor for the presence of hot radioactive particles in the environment.
Green Audit recently reported the results of measurements carried out on samples from a bomb crater in Khiam Southern Lebanon. Measurements made by the Harwell laboratory in Oxford confirmed the existence of Enriched Uranium of activity 180Bq/kg and U238/U235 ratio of 108 in the sample. The discovery, which was reported in ‘The Independent’ of 28th October, has caused some concern. The United Nations Environment Programme UNEP responded that its analyses have failed to detect Uranium. The Israel Defence Force has denied using Depleted Uranium weapons. Further evidence of the widespread existence of enriched uranium in Lebanon is now reported in a new paper by Chris Busby and Dai Williams which has been accepted by the European Journal of Biology and Bioelectromagnetics and is available on the LLRC website www.llrc.org.
Since the first analysis of the Khiam sample (which used Mass Spectrometry) was reported, Green Audit commissioned a second analysis using different techniques. Alpha spectrometry carried out at the School of Ocean Sciences University of Wales has confirmed the presence of Enriched Uranium but also shown the absence of significant amounts of plutonium. In addition, gamma spectroscopy has shown that there is no Caesium-137 or other gamma emitting isotopes that would be expected if the sample originated in spent nuclear fuel.
There are significant and justified health concerns about exposure to the long lived and widely dispersed oxide particles formed when uranium weapons are used.
In order to examine whether the Khiam bomb was a local contamination affair or whether there is more widespread distribution of uranium, Green Audit has commissioned an analysis for Uranium isotopes of a vehicle air filter taken by Dai Williams from an ambulance in the suburb of Haret Hreyk in South Beirut. The ambulance was hit on day 16 of the war but was active until then. The filter was examined using CR39 alpha tracking plastic and also sent to the Harwell laboratory for an analysis of uranium isotopes and also a routine 45 element analysis. The filter was dissolved in acid and examined using ICP Mass Spectrometry by the Harwell laboratory. Results confirmed the presence of enriched uranium. In three separate measurements the isotopic ratios U238/U235 found were 113, 123, 133 and total concentration in the filter element as supplied was 0.1mg/kg. The lower limit of detection of the Harwell measurement system was 0.0002mg/kg U238 and 0.0001mg/kg U235. This concentration is significant given that the dust in the filter would have had only two weeks to accumulate and add to earlier dust from a year’s usage in the engine. In addition, CR39 tracking techniques suggested the presence of at least two hot particles in the filter, the size and activity characteristics of which are consistent with Uranium. Although care should be taken in over-interpreting data based on only one filter, these results do suggest that there was widespread dispersion of enriched uranium over Southern Lebanon. We suggest that further vehicle filter measurements are made as a matter of urgency and that since there are political aspects, the issue is examined by or overseen by independent experts. We repeat here our earlier warning that the detection of weapons uranium in the environment is not straightforward and that conventional Geiger counters cannot be used. CR39 or sensitive beta scintillation counters followed by sampling and ICPMS is necessary before statements can be made about the presence or absence of uranium particles.
‘Further evidence of enriched uranium in guided weapons employed by the Israeli military in Lebanon in July 2006; Ambulance filter analysis’ Dai Williams and Chris Busby. European Journal of Biology and Bioelectromagnetics 2006 Vol 2 Issue 1. Published on the website www.llrc.org with permission of the Journal.
The earlier Green Audit report on bomb crater samples is at http://www.llrc.org/du/subtopic/lebanrept.pdf
Independent report at http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article1935945.ece
ICP-MS is "Inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy".
European Journal of Biology and Bioelectromagnetics: see http://www.ebab.eu.com
Critics of Green Audit and LLRC have referred to the Human Rights Council report "Commission of Inquiry on Lebanon" (http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/CoI-Lebanon.pdf), claiming that it indicates depleted Uranium was not used in Lebanon. The relevant paragraph appears to be:
ii. Depleted uranium
257. The IDF has within its arsenal of weapons munitions that can be equipped with depleted uranium warheads. It is therefore possible that depleted uranium (DU) munitions were used by the IDF during the conflict. However, the preliminary findings of the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research, which carried out a detailed field survey of several bomb sites, concluded that there was no indication of depleted uranium having been used in the conflict, with the caveat that some additional field work was still necessary to draw a final conclusion.
We note that we have already suggested enriched Uranium was deployed in order to disguise the depleted Uranium signature; that since no monitoring methods have been specified either by UNEP or OHCHR no-one can be confident that the forms of Uranium produced by Uranium bombs or armour piercing rounds would be detected; and that the findings are provisional.
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