141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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What is DU?

  • Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
  • After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
  • The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.

Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.

DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.

This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.

Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:

  • UK
  • US
  • France
  • Russia
  • China
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Israel
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Belarus
  • Pakistan
  • Oman

Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.

Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.

Health Problems

  • DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
  • Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
  • Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
  • Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat

Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.

In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.


Epidemiology

What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.

In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.

However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.

Environmental Impacts
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.

It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.

Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.

Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.

The Campaign
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.

CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.

Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.

Source

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International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons

141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote

The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008

The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.

In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.

In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.

The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.

The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.

Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.

The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.

The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.

Voting results in full

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:

France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:

Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.

Source

Honor Vets by Learning About Depleted Uranium

November 11, 2008

by Barbara Bellows

As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.

In late 2000 and January 2001, reports were exploding across Europe about the rise in cancer amongst NATO soldiers who had served in the “peacekeeping missions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. The effects of the depleted uranium in the U.S. and U.K. weapons could not be ignored.

But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.

Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,

“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”

And The Tehran Times further endangers their country by continuing to report on the problem, calling it a war crime.

And across the internet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Helbig seeks to intimidate anyone who dares to bring up the subject.

But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.” The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.

Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following.  Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.

Ten Essential Facts:

1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.

2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.

3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.

4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.

5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.

7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.

9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.

10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen.  It is up to us to bring this to his attention.  THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.

VALUABLE REFERENCES:

Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here

Dr. Keith Baverstock’s November 2001 report, suppressed by the World Health Organization:
Rob Edwards article on Baverstock:

Karen Parker, a Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Lawyer:  Scroll down on the page and you’ll find her documents on DU.

January 2003 White House Report – Apparatus of Lies:

January 2006 Chris Busby report: click here

Source

Depleated Uranium Information

Or Google it there is tons of information out there.

Be sure to encourage those who are still not supporting the ban,  that it  is something that needs to be banned.

This is an extremely dangerous form of Pollution.

We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. Every signature counts!

  1. An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons.
  2. Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control.
  3. Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites.
  4. Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims.
  5. An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
  6. A Convention for a Total Ban on Uranium Weapons.

The life you save may be your own.

Sign Petition to Ban DU

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments Off on 141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban  
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Save the Children Donates To Zimbabwe Crisis

December 3 2008
Save the Children New Zealand has announced that it will be sending NZD $60,000 to support the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

Following on from the disputed election run-offs between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe has been in a worsening state of decline.

10 million people, out of a population of 13 million live below the poverty line. Up to 5.1 million people will be in need of food aid to survive by the end of the year. One in 10 children in Zimbabwe die before the age of five, although with rocketing rates of malnutrition and disease, the child mortality rate will also rise.

A deadly outbreak of anthrax is threatening to wipe out at least 60,000 livestock in Zimbabwe’s northern Zambezi Valley. 32 cases of human anthrax have been reported in the Binga district. This figure is expected to rise.

On top of the anthrax outbreak comes reports of increasing cholera infections which have already killed hundreds of people. Zimbabwe is also in the midst of an economic crisis due to hyperinflation. On 14 November 2008 the Cato Institute released a document estimating that Zimbabwe’s monthly inflation rate to be 79.6 billion percent. This is equivalent to prices doubling every 24 hours.

Save the Children launched a global appeal on 1 December 2008 to raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. With increased resources, Save the Children’s emergency team will be responding to the anthrax and cholera outbreaks by helping to vaccinate cows from anthrax, training health workers, providing food so that safe treatment camps can be set up, and educating communities how to avoid infection.

As well as setting up food programmes the aid organisation is also helping families prepare for the future by distributing seeds, small livestock and helping to set up vegetable gardens.

Philip Abraham, Acting Executive Director for Save the Children New Zealand says: “The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions which is why Save the Children has launched a global appeal for donations. We have been working in Zimbabwe for 25 years and have expertise in operating effective programmes within the country. We know we can save lives; we just need the resources to do it”.

To make a donation to support Save the Children’s work in Zimbabwe please: Visit www.savethechildren.org.nz or call our donation line 0800 167 168

Source

Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions.

A deadly outbreak of anthrax has been reported in the north of Zimbabwe, with three people and more than 160 cattle already dead.

British charity Save the Children says that, coming on top of the ongoing cholera epidemic and the desperate food shortage, the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented proportions.

“Many families in the Zambezi valley are so hungry that they are taking meat from the carcasses of their dead animals, even if they know it’s diseased, and are feeding it to their children,” said Save the Children’s country director, Rachel Pounds. “If the animal has been poisoned by anthrax, those children could die.”

A quarantine zone has been declared in the affected areas of Matebeleland North. But traders have been seen taking potentially infected carcasses out of the restricted zones to trade in the Victoria Falls region. This risks the disease spreading across Zimbabwe and into Zambia.

Zimbabwe has had problems with Anthrax in the past, having experienced the worst-ever recorded outbreak of the disease in 1979/80, at the time of its civil war. More than 10,000 human cases were recorded and 182 human deaths. Some have suggested, but not proved, that biological warfare was involved.

Little anthrax vaccination has taken place in Zimbabwe during the past five years and the strain now found in the Zambezi valley has been identified as particularly virulent.

Anthrax can kill when infected meat is touched or eaten, or when infected spores are inhaled.

Save the Children has launched a big appeal for funds, which will be used to help vaccinate cattle and educate people about the dangers of anthrax.  In the UK For more information and to donate, click here

Source

Zimbabwe runs out of water-Public desperation is increasing

Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe

By Jeremy Laurance,
December 1 2008

To add to the peril of cholera, Zimbabwe’s beleaguered population is now facing anthrax. An outbreak of the deadly infection has killed two children and one adult and spread to 32 others. It is threatening to wipe out at least 60,000 livestock in the northern Zambezi Valley, aggravating the food crisis, Save the Children warned yesterday.

A quarantine zone has been declared in the affected areas of Matebeleland North but, because of the desperate hunger, some families are still eating infected meat. Traders have been seen taking potentially infected carcasses out of the restricted zones to trade in Victoria Falls, which risks the disease spreading across Zimbabwe and over the border into neighbouring Zambia. Symptoms lie dormant for 21 days and the death toll could be higher, the charity said.

Anthrax can kill when infected meat is touched, or eaten or when infected spores are inhaled. The disease has also killed 160 livestock, as well as two elephants, 70 hippo and 50 buffalo.

Rachel Pounds, country director in Zimbabwe, said: “This may be the biggest anthrax outbreak since the 1979-80 civil war and it could have appalling consequences for Zimbabwe. If it is not controlled, this outbreak could wipe out 60,000 cattle, goats, pigs and chickens that thousands of families are depending on to survive.”

Source

Zimbabwe’s cholera epidemic hits 10,000 to 11,000 and rising

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

Published in: on December 1, 2008 at 11:42 am  Comments Off on Now anthrax takes toll on the starving in Zimbabwe  
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Zimbabwe: Cholera Feeds Off a Perfect Storm

Harare:

All but one of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces have reported fatalities as a result of a cholera epidemic sweeping the country, according to the UN.

The rapid spread of the waterborne disease is attributed to a confluence of events that have created the perfect storm, in which a disease described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “easily treatable”, is thriving.

The collapse of municipal services, such as potable water, refuse collection and sanitation in the past few years, a health service hamstrung by an annual inflation rate that the government has estimated at 231 million percent, and the onset of the rainy season, have all conspired to officially kill about 300 people and infect thousands more.

The eastern province of Manicaland is so far the only place not to have recorded any official cholera deaths. “The cholera outbreak has taken a national dimension. Newer outbreaks are reported from all the provinces,” said a situational report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“The spatial distribution of outbreaks will most likely continue to expand, as well as the number of people infected as the water and sanitation [services] worsen, with severe water shortages, sewage and waste disposal problems reported in most densely populated areas. The starting of the rains further raises alarm levels,” the report said.

Warnings by the UN and other relief agencies that Zimbabwe was facing a humanitarian crisis, on top of acute food shortages – expected to peak in the first quarter of 2009, when nearly half the country’s 12 million population will require emergency food aid – were dismissed by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government.

“The situation is under control,” Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti told an international news agency on 27 November, although the government was reportedly appealing to regional governments for body bags.

Efforts to contain the spread of the disease across international borders have failed, with victims seeking assistance from neighbouring countries, particularly the continent’s economic powerhouse, South Africa.

Neighbouring countries feel the effects

About 1,000 victims have received rehydration treatment at the South African border post of Beitbridge in recent weeks, according to local reports.

Barbara Hogan, South Africa’s health minister, told local media on 26 November that an emergency medical response team, including nurses, epidemiologists and medical supplies, had been sent to the Zimbabwe border.

“Given the scale of the outbreak, the weakened health system in Zimbabwe and the extent of the cross-border movement of people … all aspects or our interventions need to be scaled up, and a renewed sense of urgency [is required] to deal with this outbreak,” Hogan told a press briefing in Pretoria.

She dismissed claims by Zimbabwean authorities that the cholera situation was under control, as there was “no recognised government”.

Zambian authorities have put medical services in Southern Province, which borders Zimbabwe, on high alert, health ministry spokesman Canicius Banda told IRIN, although there have been no recorded incidents of cholera in the province.

“We are not leaving anything to chance. We are screening all Zimbabwean nationals crossing into Zambia and, should anyone be found with cholera, our health workers will treat them,” Banda said.

“We have health workers at all the three border posts [with Zimbabwe] … our health workers are very much alert in case of any possible [cholera] outbreak,” he said. “All the [10] districts in the province have epidemic preparedness committees which run all year round; these have also been put on alert.”

Zambia shares three border posts with its southern neighbour at Chirundu, Kariba and Kazungula, in the country’s tourism capital, Livingstone.

“We are also carrying out random inspections of all foodstuffs, such as meat at the market places, to ensure that the products sold are of high standards,” Banda said.

Since the onset of the rainy season, Zambia has recorded about 1,000 cholera cases in its northern regions and the capital, Lusaka; there have been nine confirmed fatalities.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), which advocates the right to care and protection from abuse, told media organisations on 26 November that the country’s cholera death toll was probably much greater as a consequence of the collapse of health services, because many hundreds of deaths were not recorded when people died in their homes.

One in ten fatality rate

ZADHR Chairman Dr Douglas Gwadziro said figures “are pointing towards a 10 percent death rate of those that have been affected by cholera”, although the waterborne intestinal infection causing acute diarrhoea and vomiting, which can cause death from dehydration within 24 hours, could be easily treated with dehydration salts.

Figures are pointing towards a 10 percent death rate of those that have been affected by cholera

According to the state-controlled daily newspaper, The Herald, China had pledged to supply US$500,000 worth of cholera vaccines “as soon as consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were complete.”

However, when the vaccines arrive, distribution and administration may be complicated by industrial action in the health services. Health workers have defied a government order to return to work, and said they would only comply with government demands in 2009 if concerns about their remuneration were addressed.

Nurses are demanding better salaries to cope with hyperinflation estimated by independent economists to be billions of percent annually, and exemption from the Z$500,000 (US$0.25) daily maximum cash withdrawal from banks because they are “essential” personnel.

The average one-way commuter fare in the capital, Harare, is about Z$1 million (US$0.50), if there is cash available.

Doctors working in the public health services are also refusing to return to work unless the government pegs their salary to a monthly equivalent of US$2,500.

Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country’s largest union federation, said the growing trend of government to sanction the use of foreign currency by retail outlets prejudiced both government employees and other workers, although less than 20 percent of people were employed in the formal economy.

“It does not make sense for the government to say traders can sell commodities in foreign currency, while it pays its workers in local currency which they cannot get from the bank,” Matombo told IRIN.

“Calls by workers that they should be paid in foreign currency are legitimate because almost all outlets are providing services using the US dollar denomination,” he said.

“If the government acknowledges that its currency is useless by allowing traders to sell in US dollars, why does it want the workers to receive the useless and worthless local currency?”

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

Source

Economic sanctions are a “Weapon of Mass Destruction”

In Zimbabwe Doctors and Nurses beaten by police during peaceful protest

A Few of the World’s most polluted places

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Untreated sewage and mercury-contaminated sludge flow into a water system at Sumgayit, See a map of Azerbaijan.)

A major industrial center of the former Soviet Union and erstwhile home to more than 40 chemical factories, Sumagayit was recently named one of the ten most polluted cities in the world by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute.

At their peak of production, the town’s factories released as much as 120,000 tons of harmful emissions annually, exposing workers and residents to high levels of contaminants, the institute said.

A study conducted by the Azerbaijani government and the UN revealed that cancer rates in Sumgayit are 22 to 51 percent higher than in rest of the country.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Workers dump waste at Vapi, a town in western India that marks the southern end of the country’s “Golden Corridor”a 400-kilometer (245-mile) stretch of industrial sites that manufacture petrochemicals, pesticides, dyes, paints, and fertilizers. (See a map of India.)

A survey by the Indian government revealed that the sites lack a proper system for disposing of industrial waste, which often contains high levels of heavy metals and cyanide, among other contaminants.

A new list issued by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute places Vapi in the top ten of the most polluted regions in the world.

Vapi’s distance from sources of clean water has forced residents to consume the town’s contaminated water, the institute said.

As a result, incidences of respiratory diseases, carcinoma, skin and throat cancers, birth defects, and infertility are high in Vapi, the nonprofit added.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

A doctor holds a newborn in Dzerzhinsk, Russia, in 1997. (See a map of Russia.)

The city, once the country’s Cold War headquarters for producing chemical weapons, was recently added to the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the world’s ten most polluted places.

Dzerzhinsk remains an important hub of chemical manufacturing.

Babies born here have birth defects at three times the national rate, the institute said on its Web site. A quarter of these babies will likely grow up and work in factories that still spew toxic chemicals, it added.

Dzerzhinsk’s average life expectancy is 42 years for men, well below the national average of about 58.

No major initiative to combat the pollution and health problems is underway, according to the New York-based institute.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Men search for metal at an abandoned lead mine in Kabwe, Zambia, the country’s second largest city, in this undated photo. (See a map of Zambia.)

Decades of unregulated lead mining have led to widespread poisoning in residents exposed to soil and water.

The New York-based Blacksmith Institute added the city to its list of the ten most polluted places for 2007.

Blood lead levels in children, who often bathe in contaminated water and play in the soil, are high enough to be potentially fatal, the institute reported on its Web site.

Although a local nonprofit educates families about avoiding lead exposure, entire communities may have to relocate, the institute said.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

A cemetery of radioactive vehicles is seen near Ukraine‘s Chernobyl nuclear power plant in this November 10, 2000 photo. (See a map of Ukraine.)

More than 1,300 Soviet military helicopters, buses, bulldozers, and other equipment were used and contaminated while responding to the April 26, 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl.

The disaster’s residual effects and its potential for future environmental and health damage has landed Chernobyl on the New York-based Blacksmith Institute’s 2007 list of the ten most polluted sites.

A hundred times more radiation was released during the meltdown of Chernobyl’s reactor than was contained in the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The event created a spike in thyroid cancers among children and led to innumerable respiratory ailments, infertility cases, and birth defects in local residents.

Today a 19-mile (31-kilometer) exclusion zone around the reactor remains largely deserted.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Women work at an open chromite mine at Sukinda, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, in this undated photo. (See a map of India.)

The Sukinda valley contains 97 percent of the country’s deposits of chromite a source of chromium and is the site of one of the largest open-cast chromite ore mines in the world.

A list issued by the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute cites the region as one of the most polluted in the world.

Twelve mines operate in Sukinda, generating about 30 million tons of waste rock and contaminating more than 60 percent of the water resources with hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, the institute said on its Web site.

A state government study has also indicated that 85 percent of the deaths in the mining areas and nearby villages are due to chromite-mine related diseases.

The government reportedly stated that the situation in Sukinda “is unique, it is gigantic, and it is beyond the means and purview of the [Orissa Pollution Control] Board to solve the problem.”

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Cars inch through the smog-filled city center of Linfen, China, on July 7, 2007. (See a map of China.)

The city is listed among the world’s ten most polluted places of 2007, according to the New York-based nonprofit Blacksmith Institute.

Linfen sits at the center of China’s prodigious coal industry, which is largely unregulated by the government. Residents describe choking on coal dust, and local health clinics have reported an upsurge in bronchitis, pneumonia, and lung cancer, according to the institute.

“The one thing that blew me away was in Linfen, three million people are affected by air pollution,” said William Suk, acting deputy director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

“People assume a lot of these sites are in the middle of nowhere, but they’re not.”

By the end of 2007, Linfen plans to shut down 57 of its 153 coal-producing plants, to be replaced with cleaner, regulated facilities, the institute’s Web site reported.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

Russia‘s northernmost major city, Noril’sk pumps out more than two million tons of pollutants a year making it one of the ten most polluted spots in the world, according to the New York-based nonprofit Blacksmith Institute. (See a map of Russia.)

Mining and smelting began in Noril’sk in the 1930s, and the city now houses the world’s largest smelting complex for heavy metals.

Snow is often blackened with pollution, the air tastes of sulfur, and the life expectancy is up to ten years lower than the Russian average, the institute reported.

Noril’sk Nickel, the major firm operating in the town, says it has invested millions in its dust and gas recovery and removal systems, according to the institute.

Ten Most Polluted Places Named

September 18, 2007Two girls walk to school amid smoky skies in La Oroya, Peru, in this September 2003 photo. (See a map of Peru.)

The congested mining town of 35,000 nestled high in the Andes was recently added to the Blacksmith Institute’s list of the ten most polluted places in the world.

A metal smelter run by the Missouri-based Doe Run Corporation has operated in the remote settlement since 1922.

Exposure to the smelter’s pollution has led to dangerously high blood lead levels in nearly all of La Oroya’s children, according to the New York-based institute.

Lung ailments are widespread, and high numbers of premature death have been linked to the smelter’s emissions, the nonprofit reports on its Web site.

Likewise, acid rain from sulfur dioxide pollution has destroyed much of the vegetation in the area.

Doe Run says it has invested approximately 1 million U.S. dollars a year in a joint program with the Peruvian Ministry of Health to lower blood lead levels in the region.

The Blacksmith Institute, which collaborates with local agencies to fight pollution worldwide, compiled its annual list of the most polluted places through a nomination process.

The entries were then reviewed by a technical advisory board of medical and environmental experts.

William Suk, acting deputy director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, was not involved in the report.

“What the [Blacksmith Institute] has done is a good thing,” Suk told National Geographic News.

“They are trying to bring to the attention of the world that these sites exist.”

Source

U.N. report warns toxic brown haze has devastating effect

November 14 2008

A satellite image shows a dense blanket of polluted air over central-eastern China, covering the coastline around Shanghai. The "Asian brown cloud" is a toxic mix of ash, acids and airborne particles from car and factory emissions, as well as from low-tech polluters like wood-burning stoves. </p> <p>A satellite image shows a dense blanket of polluted air over central-eastern China, covering the coastline around Shanghai. The

BEIJING

A noxious cocktail of soot, smog and toxic chemicals is blotting out the sun, fouling the lungs of millions of people and altering weather patterns in large parts of Asia, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations.

The byproduct of automobiles, slash-and-burn agriculture, cooking on dung or wood fires, and coal-fired power plants, these plumes rise over southern Africa, the Amazon basin and North America.

But they are most pronounced in Asia, where so-called atmospheric brown clouds are reducing sunlight in many Chinese cities and leading to decreased crop yields in swaths of rural India, say a team of more than a dozen scientists who have been studying the problem since 2002.

“The imperative to act has never been clearer,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, in Beijing, identified as one of the world’s most polluted cities and where the report was released.

The brownish haze, sometimes in a layer more than a mile thick and visible from airplanes, stretches from the Arabian peninsula to the Yellow Sea. During the spring, it sweeps past North and South Korea and Japan. Sometimes the cloud drifts as far east as California. The report identified 13 cities as brown-cloud hot spots, among them Bangkok, Thailand; Cairo, Egypt; New Delhi; Seoul, South Korea; and Tehran, Iran.

It was issued on a day when Beijing’s own famously polluted skies were unusually clear. On Wednesday, by contrast, the capital was shrouded in a thick, throat-stinging haze that is the byproduct of heavy industry, coal-burning home heaters and the 3.5 million cars that clog the city’s roads.

Last month, the government reintroduced some of the traffic restrictions that were imposed on Beijing during the Olympics; the rules forced private cars to stay off the road one day a week and sidelined 30 percent of government vehicles on any given day. Overall, officials say the new measures have removed 800,000 cars from the roads.

According to the U.N. report, smog blocks from 10 percent to 25 percent of the sunlight that should be reaching the city’s streets. The report also singled out the southern city of Guangzhou, where soot and dust have dimmed natural light by 20 percent since the 1970s.

In fact, the scientists who worked on the report said the blanket of haze might be temporarily offsetting some warming from the simultaneous buildup of greenhouse gases by reflecting solar energy away from the earth. Greenhouse gases, by contrast, tend to trap the warmth of the sun and lead to a rise in ocean temperatures.

“All of this points to an even greater and urgent need to take on emissions across the planet,” Steiner said.

Climate scientists say similar plumes from industrialization of wealthy countries after World War II probably blunted global warming through the 1970s. Pollution laws removed that pall.

Rain can cleanse the skies, but some of the black grime that falls to earth ends up on the surface of the Himalayan glaciers that are the source of water for billions of people in China, India and Pakistan. As a result, the glaciers that feed into the Yangtze, Ganges, Indus and Yellow rivers are absorbing more sunlight and melting more rapidly, researchers say.

According to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, these glaciers have shrunk by 5 percent since the 1950s and, at the current rate of retreat, could shrink by 75 percent by 2050.

“We used to think of this brown cloud as a regional problem, but now we realize its impact is much greater,” said Veerabhadran Ramanathan, who led the U.N. scientific panel. “When we see the smog one day and not the next, it just means it’s blown somewhere else.”

Although the clouds’ overall impact is not entirely understood, Ramanathan, a professor of climate and ocean sciences at the University of California, San Diego, said they might be affecting precipitation in parts of India and Southeast Asia, where monsoon rainfall has been decreasing in recent decades, and central China, where devastating floods have become more frequent.

He said some studies suggested the plumes of soot that blot out the sun have led to a 5 percent decline in the growth rate of rice harvests across Asia since the 1960s.

For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and kitchen stoves fueled by firewood.

Source

CO2

By Paul Eccleston
November 14  2007

Australians are the world’s worst polluters, according to a new ‘name and shame’ league table based on power station emissions.

Each Australian produces 11 tonnes of CO2 power sector emissions each year on a per capita basis. The United States comes second in the table on nine tonnes per person Britain is ranked 9th at 3.5 tonnes per person.

The findings are revealed in a huge survey of the CO2 emissions from 50,000 power plants worldwide by the Centre for Global Development (CGD) an independent think-tanked based in the US.

The on-line Carbon Monitoring for Action (CARMA) database shows where the worst power station culprits are, who owns them and how much of the greenhouse gas they are pumping into the atmosphere.

It includes 4,000 power companies, and nearly 200,000 geographic regions in every country on earth. Visitors to the site can view carbon emissions data for the year 2000, the present, and future plans.

Power stations are the planet’s most concentrated source of greenhouse gases – one of the main factors in global arming – producing nearly 10 billion tons of CO 2 per year. The US, with over 8,000 power plants, accounts for about 25 per cent of the total or 2.8 billion tons.

Although the developing nations are among the worst offenders they have a far lower per capita rate. The average Chinese citizen produces two tonnes of CO2 from power generation annually while Indians only about half of one tonne per person.

Although no single country comes close to the 2.8 billion tons of CO 2 produced annually by the US power sector, other countries collectively account for three-quarters of all the power-related CO2 emissions.

China comes second with 2.7 billion tonnes, followed by Russia with 661m tonnes; India 583m tonnes; Japan 400m tonnes, Germany 356m tonnes, Australia 226m tonnes, South Africa 222m tonnes, the UK 212m tonnes and South Korea 185m tonnes.

Power generation accounts for about one-quarter of total emissions of CO2. Through the website people concerned about climate change can check on the emissions of their local power station.

CARMA was set up to help the drive towards less carbon-intensive power generation and reducing global warming which will hit poor people in developing countries the hardest.

The man who led the research, David Wheeler, a senior fellow at CGD, said: “CARMA makes information about power-related CO2 emissions transparent to people throughout the world. Information leads to action. We know that this works for other forms of pollution and we believe it can work for greenhouse gas emissions, too.

“We expect that institutional and private investors, insurers, lenders, environmental and consumer groups and individual activists will use the CARMA data to encourage power companies to burn less coal and oil and to shift to renewable power sources, such as wind and solar.”

Statistics for the UK show it has the 9th highest CO2-emitting power sector at 212,000,000 tonnes of CO2.

The Drax power station in Selby, Yorkshire is named as the biggest UK polluter producing 23,700,000 tonnes of CO2 annually making it the 23rd most polluting power station in the world.

It is followed in the UK by Longannet in Alloa, Scotland at 15,700,000 tonnes; Ratcliffe in the East Midlands at 12,800,000 tonnes; Fiddlers Ferry in the North West at 12,300,000 tonnes; and Cottam in the East Midlands at 12,300,000 tonnes.

The world’s worst pollution power plant is Taichung in the city of Lung-Ching in Taiwan which pumps out 41.3m tonnes of CO2 per year.

Taiwan and China have four of the top six worst polluting power plants

Source

100 dirtiest power stations in the UK
25 dirtiest power stations in the world

World’s 10 Worst Pollution Spots

NEW YORK, New York, October 18, 2006 (ENS)
The world’s 10 most polluted places threaten the health of more than 10 million people in eight countries, according to a report released today by a U.S. environmental action group. Three of the most polluted sites are in Russia, the report said, with the remaining seven located in China, Dominican Republic, India, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Ukraine and Zambia.

The report was released by the Blacksmith Institute and compiled by a team of international environment and health experts, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Mt. Sinai Medical Center and City University of New York.

“A key criterion in the selection process was the nature of the pollutant,” said Richard Fuller, director of Blacksmith Institute. “The biggest culprits are heavy metals – such as lead, chromium and mercury – and long-lasting chemicals – such as the `persistent organic pollutants.’ That’s because a particular concern of all these cases is the accumulating and long lasting burden building up in the environment and in the bodies of the people most directly affected.”

scavenge
Children scavenging a mine in Kabwe, Zambia, one of the sites on the list. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)
With the exception of Chernobyl, the Ukranian site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, most of the locations on the list are little-known – even in their own countries.

The most-polluted sites primarily affect communities deep in poverty, the report said, but there are potential remedies.

“Problems like this have been solved over the years in the developed world, and we have the capacity and the technology to spread our experience to our afflicted neighbors,” the report said.

The list includes:

  • the Chinese city of Linfen, located in the heat of the country’s coal region and chosen as an example of the severe pollution faced by many Chinese cities;
  • Haina, Dominican Republic, the site of a former automobile battery recycling smelter where residents suffer from widespread lead poisoning;
  • the Indian city of Ranipet, where some 3.5 million people are affected by tannery waste, which contains hexavalent chromium and azodyes.
  • Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan, home to a former Soviet uranium plant and severely contaminated with radioactive uranium mine wastes;
  • the Peruvian mining town of La Oroya, where residents have been exposed to toxic emissions from a poly-metallic smelter;
  • Dzerzinsk, Russia, the site of a Cold War-era chemical weapons facility;kid
    A child stands on a battery casing in the Dominican Republic. The world’s most polluted sites all impact very poor communities. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)
  • the Russian industrial city of Norilsk, which houses the world’s largest heavy metals smelting complex and where more than 4 million tons of cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, arsenic, selenium and zinc emissions are released annually;
  • the Russian Far East towns of Dalnegorsk and Rudnaya Pristan, whose residents suffer from serious lead poisoning from an old smelter and the unsafe transport of lead concentrate from the local lead mining site;
  • and the city of Kabwe, Zambia, where mining and smelting operations have led to widespread lead and cadmium contamination.

“Living in a town with serious pollution is like living under a death sentence,” the report said. “If the damage does not come from immediate poisoning, then cancers, lung infections, mental retardation, are likely outcomes.”

The report warns that there are some towns where life expectancy approaches medieval rates, where birth defects are the norm not the exception.”

“In other places children’s asthma rates are measured above 90 percent, or mental retardation is endemic,” it said. “In these places, life expectancy may be half that of the richest nations. The great suffering of these communities compounds the tragedy of so few years on earth.”

Blacksmith said it plans to circulate the report extensively to development agencies and local governments, working to place clean-up on the policy agenda in their respective countries and to initiate fundraising to help these regions.

tannery

Tannery runoff in India is polluting the water supply of some 3.5 million people. (Photo courtesy Blacksmith Institute)

“The most important thing is to achieve some practical progress in dealing with these polluted places,” says Dave Hanrahan, Blacksmith Institute’s chief of global operations. “There is a lot of good work being done in understanding the problems and in identifying possible approaches. Our goal is to instill a sense of urgency about tackling these priority sites.”

“This initial Worst-Polluted Places list is a starting point,” Hanrahan added. “We are looking to the international community and local specialists for feedback on the selection process and on our list. We want to make sure that the key dangerously polluted sites get the needed attention and support from the international community in order to remediate them.”

Source

Pollution Reports including Top 100 Corporate Air Polluters 2007 in US

Alberta Oil Sands a Pollution Nightmare