January 21, 2009
The UN nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it would investigate
allegations by Arab countries that Israel may have used ammunition
containing depleted uranium during its 22-day military offensive in Gaza.
The countries made the allegations in a letter addressed to Director General
Mohammed ElBaradei and delivered by the Saudi Arabian ambassador on Monday.
They asked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to investigate the matter.
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming confirmed the receipt of the letter.
"We are circulating the letter to member states and will investigate the
matter to the extent of our ability," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.
The exact course of action would be decided after consultation with member
The Israeli ambassador to the IAEA, Israel Michaeli, declined to comment.
Depleted uranium is a waste product of uranium enrichment and has a number
of civilian and military applications, including its use in weapons to
penetrate tanks and amour plating.
Investigations have been carried out into its use in ammunition in conflicts
such as the 1991 Gulf War and 1994-95 NATO air strikes in the Balkans.
The IAEA published a report on the issue in 2002. At the time, IAEA Deputy
Director General Werner Burkart said:
"To be honest, there are very few
health concerns for depleted uranium from a radiological point of view,
because it is only very slightly radioactive.
"Even the handling of enriched uranium in industry does not need special
protection such as shielding. There are more dangerous radiotoxic elements
associated with uranium in nature."
Depleted uranium could pose a health risk, however, in the form of dust
found at impact sites.
Nevertheless, in the case of the Balkans conflict,
"it is difficult to
imagine that peacekeepers had exposure to depleted uranium high enough to
significantly change their normal level of radiation exposure from natural
and civilian sources," Burkart said at the time.
Before leaving office, Bush approved new Protective Action Guides (PAGs) for
Rules dramatically weaken public protections.
by Nuclear Information and Resource Service
January 21, 2009
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Just before leaving office, the
Bush Administration approved new
Action Guides (PAGs) for radiation releases that dramatically weaken public
In particular, the new PAGs would permit radioactivity in
drinking water hundreds to millions of times higher than longstanding EPA
The PAGs weren't able to published in the Federal Register before
Inauguration, but unless the new Obama Administration pulls them back
immediately, they could be published in the next few days.
The Order issued by the White House Tuesday to suspend all rulemaking
activities until the new Administration can review them might be interpreted
by Bush holdovers at EPA as strictly only covering formal rulemaking. In
order to avoid rulemaking legal requirements, the Bush Administration issued
these new standards as Protective Action Guides instead.
So it is critical
to get EPA to immediately pull the PAGs back from the Federal Register.
Please call the EPA Administrator's office at 202-564-4700 today and leave a
message, asking that the Radiation Protective Action Guides be withdrawn
immediately from publication in the Federal Register.
For more information, see
or contact Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap at 831 336-8003,