Death by cancer
Uranium is One of the Most Common Elements On Earth. Uranium is literally everywhere, evidenced by the Radon detector Public Health officials advise everyone to have. Radon is the poisonous gas released by the natural decaying process of Uranium
and Radium. In areas where the concentrations are high enough to mine, approximately five tons of soil yield one tablespoon of Uranium ore. In refined form, Uranium is highly radioactive.
DEPLETED URANIUM [dU]:
What Makes Uranium Depleted and Why? Through a complex process, Uranium ore is converted to a gas (UF6) which is passed through a series of ‘filters’tto separate the
Uranium into its individual isotopes. 235U and 234U are then used to produce fuel rods for nuclear reactors and the fissionable material of atomic bombs. The 238U isotope, which makes up over 99% of Uranium ore, is
considered a waste product of this procedure and is now labeled as ‘depleted’ and commonly referred to as U238. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission currently stores hundreds of tons of 238U. While 238U remains 60% as radioactive as natural Uranium, with a half life of 4.5-billion years, it is considered ‘safe’
provided it does not enter the body.
In the mid 1970s, uses for this depleted Uranium were developed,
including ballasts for planes and boats and military munitions.
DEPLETED URANIUM MUNITIONS
The Silver Bullet
First deployed as a military weapon in Gulf War I, the munition earned the nickname Silver Bullet because of its ability to destroy enemy armor. The shell’s dU penetrator, 1.7 times more dense than lead, had the unique ability to ‘self sharpen’ as it burned through armor plating. When a 120mm M829 tank shell, which contains a solid 10.8
pound dU penetrator, hits its target, up to 70% of the dU is aerosolized into uranium oxide dust.
Blown by the wind, these toxic microscopic radioactive particles can be easily ingested, inhaled or enter through an open wound.
DU in FRACKING (ground water contamination & TENORM)
Fracking involves toxic chemicals being lowered into kilometer-deep holes drilled in the ground to isolate gas and oil from shale. The toxic chemicals can then float into lakes and rivers or contaminate the ground. Also, fracking produces a disproportionate amount of waste, including radioactive water, which then has to be dumped somewhere.
The key to fracking Uranium is the key element to fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, to use its proper name. In the real-world version of Phineas Fogg’s “Eighty Days Around the World,” burning the ship’s masts and furniture to make steam, governments are now encouraging the oil and gas merchants to blast their way deep into the Earth to squeeze the last ounce of oil and gas from that poor creature. But there will be a terrible revenge. Locked up in the strata into which they pump the pressurized process water, to fracture and thus create the huge surface area sponge which will yield up its cargo of gas and oil, is a monstrous amount of natural uranium and its deadly daughter Radium-226. And vast amounts of the radioactive alpha emitting gas Radon-222, and its own daughters Bismuth 214, Lead-210 and the alpha emitter Polonium-210. Remember Polonium-210? That was the material used when a few millionths of a gram poisoned ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.
Deep down in the earth, there is a lot of radioactivity, which is safe enough, so long as it is not brought up to the surface. The technical term is NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material). When it is brought to the surface it becomes Technologically Enhanced, or TENORM, and it is a serious health problem near oil wells and gas production sites. It is in the production water, in the oil, in the gas, around the production sites, the groundwater, in the pipes and tanks – and in your kitchen.
The easy oil and gas deposits are those where there are subterranean reservoirs, and the oil and gas can obtained by drilling into the reservoir and then pumping down water to displace the oil back up the drill pipe. These are now running out, or are owned by people who control the flow and the price. But there are many other deposits, where the resource is spread throughout the rock, like water in a sponge. Fracking comprises any method employed to break up the solid rock, shale or sandstone to provide channels that allow the oil or gas in the strata to more easily be pumped to the surface. Fracking is not a new idea, but there are some new technologies being employed that make it easy to obtain gas economically from such hitherto unassailable rock sources. For reasons which I will outline, this development has some worrying aspects.
The gas or oil will not normally be available because it is trapped in and interspersed through solid rock. To get it out you have to drill horizontally along the solid organic clay material, the shale, (or whatever oil-bearing rock type is there) and then break that unto small pieces in various ways so that the gas or oil can be pushed by the water you pump in back to the well pipe and up to the surface. The methods of breaking up the rock and holding the subsequent channels apart vary; put together they are “fracking”.
The shale strata are between 1,000 and 8,000 feet deep. Owing the weight of rock above, the pressure on the rocks in the gas bearing strata at these depths is enormous. The drill has to pass a tube (the “gun”) along the stratum for as long a length as possible and then this has to become perforated along its length with holes that allow the gas or oil to get into the tube and up to the surface.
Historically difficult. But technology has come to the rescue in the manifestation of specially designed explosives called “shaped charges.” These are cone-shaped dense metal explosive devices that send the explosive energy in an enormously powerful directed jet of metal atoms that act as a drill and melt the rock or shale along the length of the jet. This creates a radially distributed set of channels along and around the length of the drill tube, in the shape of a bottle-cleaning brush. Once this is done, water containing a whole range of acids and chemical additives is injected under immense pressure and this is followed up by small balls and sand or grit, termed “proppant” like the pit props in a mine, to hold the channels formed open. The extreme pressure pushes the weight of the upper layers of rock upwards and releases the tension in the strata where the gas is trapped. It has been noticed that the effect of all this on geophysical stability of the local deep earth results in small earth tremors and shocks, noticed by people living nearby. But the real cause of these tremors may be more sinister.
The metal which was formerly employed for the shaped charge head or “gun” was copper. This creates a pressure of 300,000 atmospheres which pushes the rock aside by plastic deformation. But in 1984 a US patent (US 4441428) was filed by one Thomas Wilson, entitled “Conical Shaped Charge Liner of Depleted Uranium.” The patent begins: “this invention relates to a novel blasting device especially adapted for drilling oil and gas wells.” Wilson records that DU is 5-times as efficient as copper in terms of the length of the jetted hole, creating a pressure of 600,000 atmospheres. Because of the uranium’s greater chemical reactivity it actually creates new chemical compounds with the material in the rock (and the oil and gas).
The DU cuts through the rock like butter, just as the military versions of this technology, which we believe has been fitted to missiles can cut through concrete reinforced bunkers. The multiple-shaped charge explosions will certainly shake the ground. The earth tremors and earthquakes are then not so hard to explain. Where do the process water acids, chemical compounds end up? At the surface? In the local aquifer? In the local rivers? Yes. But where to the DU nanoparticles from the shaped charge end up? Perhaps the mix of process water and chemicals spilled at the surface. Perhaps in the oil or in the gas. In your kitchen? No one looks, but someone should, since we know from the Iraq wars what these things can do to human health.
In case you might think this is all scaremongering, academic and unrelated to fracking, another patent was filed more recently in 2011 (US Patent 20110000669) by Halliburton (think: oil, gas, armaments, missiles, Dick Cheney) entitled “Perforating gun assembly and method for controlling wellbore pressure during perforating”. The patent specifically refers to Depleted Uranium.
So not only is there a lot of natural radioactive material surfacing in the gas or oil stream, and the production water, there is the possibility also a lot of unnatural radioactivity coming up from the DU shaped charges. And besides the fact that Depleted Uranium is the most efficient of these shaped charge metals, let’s not forget the attraction to the US nuclear industry of a way of getting rid of its vast stocks of Depleted Uranium, or even natural Uranium, or even nuclear waste. I mean, who is going to look at the radioactivity in the process water? It will be radioactive from the Radium and Radon daughters anyway. You would need to carry out some sophisticated analysis to see if it contained any nasty man-made radionuclides, especially DU nanoparticles. Who will do that?
Fracking contamination The issue of natural radioactivity and fracking gas was raised by my friend, Marvin Resnikoff, who was an expert on the NORM cases. He has examined the fracking situation in relation to the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale gas, New York State. He pointed out that there were two critical issues. There is the concentration of Radium-226 in the rock. Then there is the length of time it takes for the gas to get to the kitchen.
Radon has a half-life of about four days, and so if the gas takes a short time to get from the well production site to the consumer, then levels in the kitchen can be significant. He calculated that there would be between 1,000 and 30,000 extra lung cancers in New York State from such an exposure. And that no one in environmental protection agencies had paid any attention to this issue.
This is certainly of concern, but there are other issues. The process water (and chemicals) certainly contaminates the areas around the gas production machinery. In Louisiana there was a gas distribution plant that was scarily radioactive, and the land around it was also radioactive. I also studied oil well production areas in a Kentucky court case. The process water dissolves Radium-226 and this precipitates as scale on the pipes and tanks and is left on the ground near the wellheads and distribution facilities. The transfer pipes are radioactive. One of the worst radionuclides left behind is the Radon daughter Lead-210 which has a longish half-life (22 years) and builds up in these situations as a fine dust. It gets into the gas stream as nanoparticles and I believe it remains in the gas stream. It decays to Bismuth-210 which immediately decays to the alpha emitter Polonium-210 with a half-life of 138 days.
Fracking will increase the amount of Radon in the extracted gas. Why? Because of the high surface area created by smashing up the rock. In the simple gas or oil well there is a big cavern. The radon seeps out of the wall which has a surface area equal to that of the cavern wall. But in the case of the fracked strata, the surface area out of which the Radon can seep is enormously enhanced. So a faster Radon transfer can occur.
Burning our ship So I conclude that fracking carries with it some serious health issues relating to radiation exposure and local contamination, issues which, as Marvin Resnikoff points out in his articles, have not been addressed properly (or at all) by the environmental impact statements published by the operators, or by the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA. The well heads and distribution areas will become radioactively contaminated. The contamination from the process water will get into the groundwater and drinking water. And let’s not forget the Depleted Uranium.
Fracking, of course, is for more profits and cheaper energy, security, independence in energy terms from remote suppliers. But we know what it’s really for. It is the necessary fuel for the continuing economic system, the market-forces-driven, short-attention-span, continued global extravaganza of manufacturing, working, buying and selling that life has now become. Of course this can’t last since (fracking or not) the fossil fuel (and other fuels) will eventually run out, and/or the limited biosphere will die off from the toxic waste products of the activity, something that is currently happening at a frightening rate. But fracking will buy them more time.
Heavy Metal and Radioactive Poisoning
If dU enters the body, this highly toxic, heavy metal substance may
cause chronic fatigue, leukemia, cancer, weight loss, kidney
problems, respiratory problems, rashes, chest pains, joint pains,
headaches, muscle aches, neurological problems, cognitive difficulties
and semen contaminated with uranium causing an increase in
birth defects, miscarriages, still births and infant mortality.
We know heavy metal poisoning is detrimental to our health.
The health effects of ionized radiation depend on whether it is
Alpha, Beta or Gamma and if the radioactive material is inside or
outside the body. Alpha is the least penetrating, but the most
hazardous if it does get into the body. In contrast, Gamma and
Beta are more penetrating but do not cause as much damage
inside the body.
Depleted Uranium emits primarily ALPHA particles.
VETERANS ADMINISTRATION SCREENING FOR dU:
An Incorrect Test Offered to All Who Request It!
The DoD administered Ames test checks the urine for overall
uranium. With uranium naturally around us everywhere, most of
us would test positive no matter where you lived. Depending on
your food or liquid intake, these levels could vary greatly from day
to day and still be within acceptable levels. Even with dU poisoning
you could test within that acceptable range.
ADEQUATE dU TESTING IS NEEDED NOW:
Isolating the Isotopes
To identify dU poisoning, the test must be able to isolate individual
uranium isotopes. If the uranium is naturally occurring, the result
would return exact uranium isotope percentages, no matter what
the overall level. If the 238U isotope is more than 99.283% (hence
the other percentages would be lower) you have heavy metal
toxicity. The test is sophisticated and accurate.
You would also have a higher concentration of radioactive alpha
emitting particles bathing the surrounding tissue, inside your
body, with the worst of all radiation. And the long term health
effects of that are also well known.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS HEALTH:
Educate Yourself and Others.
The military denies any connection between health problems
experienced by American Soldiers and dU. Some experts support
their view. But many medical experts don’t. All agree dU is highly
toxic. And we all remember the denials surrounding Agent Orange
and the Atomic Veterans.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Contact Your State Representative and Demand
Legislation to Support Our Troops by Providing
Adequate Testing for Depleted Uranium Poisoning.
Our Future Could Depend On It.