World of Decline

Deplete Your Uranium For Free!

Posted in Uncategorized by isochroma on September 13, 2009

Depleted uranium is by far the most voluminous and massive waste product of the nuclear power and nuclear weapons industry. It is both chemically toxic and bioaccumulative as a heavy metal (like lead, mercury and cadmium) and also emits alpha particles – it’s radioactive.

To make 1kg of uranium-235 for weapons or power plants, 10.8kg of depleted uranium (uranium-238 or U238) is produced.[1] Massive quantities of this lethal metal are left over from the production of U235 – as of 27 August 2009, “DOE has some 700,000 metric tons of depleted uranium but only a small percentage are at assays above 0.4% U-235 and therefore clearly economical in today’s market to re-enrich, according to a source familiar with what he described as this “pilot” program.“[5]

Only a small percentage is worth re-enriching… so what to do with all the rest of this toxic, low-level radioactive metal? The stuff lasts nearly forever, too: DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Our Sun is expected to turn into a red giant in 5 billion years, engulfing the Earth in the process.[2]

“As a red giant, the Sun will have a maximum radius beyond the Earth’s current orbit, 1 AU (1.5×1011 m), 250 times the present radius of the Sun.[99] However, by the time it is an asymptotic giant branch star, the Sun will have lost roughly 30% of its present mass due to a stellar wind, so the orbits of the planets will move outward. If it were only for this, Earth would probably be spared, but new research suggests that Earth will be swallowed by the Sun owing to tidal interactions.”

This depleted uranium is a long-lived, ‘low-level’ radioactive waste that must be stored for billions of years! That storage is costly and nobody wants it in their community: ‘NOT IN MY BACKYARD!’. Here’s how U-238 decays, from “Short Primer on Radioactive Decay: Uranium 238“:

U238

So a cheap, useful way was found to dispose of it: in their backyards – via wars of aggression against other countries. Being very dense, depleted uranium makes a fine penetrator for use in bullets and bombs. Just two of these many cases are illustrative:

“In a three week period of conflict in Iraq during 2003 it was estimated over 1000 tons of depleted uranium munitions were used.”[3]

“In Afghanistan where 800 to 1000 tons of depleted uranium was estimated to have been used in 2001, even uneducated Afghanis understand the impact these weapons have had on their children and on future generations.”[4]

Most damning of all, “With DU stockpiles estimated to be more than 500,000 tons, it was more economical to use depleted uranium than store it.”[1]

Indeed it has been more economic to use depleted uranium than store it; in addition, the use of depleted uranium in this manner has some distinct advantages for the US:

1. It decreases costly-to-store stocks of depleted uranium. These stocks are costly because public opposition to disposal siting, environmental regulation, fortification and guarding requirements all limit the options for disposal and mandate upfront costs and continuing payouts for maintenance and security.

2. It decreases risky stocks of depleted uranium. These stocks are inherently risky due to threat of natural disaster or human theft causing inadvertent release. Despite payouts for good siting, fortification, and ongoing security, unforseen natural disaster or human agency can still liberate these stocks. Such a disaster can result in enormous civil – usually financial – and criminal liability for those charged with overseeing its care.

3. It chemically poisons the soil, crops, animals and people of victim countries for billions of years.

4. It nuclearly poisons the soil, crops, animals and people of victim countries for billions of years.

5. As a high-density addition to munitions it increases their penetrating power.

Thus current US policy is to use enemy states as free nuclear disposal sites for otherwise useless, costly-to-store depleted uranium.

This policy has been quite successful so far, apart from the negative publicity engendered by horrific photos of mutated babies and other victims. See “Cracking More Skulls per Dollar with Polywell“, “Deformed Iraqi babies caused by USA use of depleted uranium“, “Depleted Uranium Weapons — an investigation“, and “Photos of Babies Deformed at Birth as a Result of Depleted Uranium (DU) 2003” for more pictures of the beneficiaries of the gift that keeps on giving.

References

[1] Wikipedia: Depleted Uranium [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium]

[2] Wikipedia: Sun [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun]

[3] Gulf troops face tests for cancer guardian.co.uk 25 April 2003, Retrieved February 3, 2009 [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/apr/25/internationaleducationnews.armstrade]

[4] Depleted Uranium: The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War [http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/MOR407A.html]

[5] Current Issues: Waste Management of Depleted Uranium [http://www.wise-uranium.org/ediss.html]