CPT Americas: Study Finds DU Weapons Plant Contaminating Environment

by Michael Henes, member of the July 2013 Depreted Uranium Weapons delegation

A Tennessee weapons plant is releasing radioactive and poisonous contamination, a recent study found.

CPT and the Appalachian Peace Education Center (APEC) announced the findings at a 15 July news conference near the Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee depleted uranium (DU) weapons plant.

The April 2013 study by Dr. Michael E. Ketterer, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Arizona University, demonstrated that soil, creek sediment and biological life near the Jonesborough plant are contaminated with waste from DU weapons manufacturing.

“Because Aerojet is the only nearby company that can work with processed uranium, we assert that the Aerojet plant is polluting the environment with uranium,” said CPT delegate and former chemist John Mueller of Kansas.

“Studies of veterans exposed to uranium weapons show that male vets have three times the normal rate of children with birth defects,” said Texas CPT delegate Rusty Tomlinson. “Female vets have four times the normal rate.”

DU, widely used by the U.S. military, is both highly toxic and radioactive. It becomes an aerosol when it combusts—either during waste incineration or deployment—and has traveled airborne thousands of miles. When ingested, DU particles migrate throughout the body and can cause cancer and disease through DNA disruption.

CPTer and Maryknoll sister Rosemarie Milazzo of New York emphasized CPT’s and APEC’s commitment to nonviolent transformation. “We believe all weapons are immoral and their use is incompatible with the most basic principles of humanity and environmental health protection,” she said.

Aerojet declined an offer by CPT to participate in the event.

Other delegates: Margaret Al Oboudi (MI), Tracy Hughes and Merwyn DeMello (IL).