PAUL GOETTLICH 6may03
The US Army is to halt the bombing of Vieques. And, for good reason, the people of Vieques are extremely happy. For the first time in many people's lives they will have a good night's sleep and their lives will calm down after decades of incessant bombing by a government devoid of humanity and outside of the law.
Since the entity that is leaving, or at least stopping the bombing, is the US Army/Government, we can know with near certainty that whatever is out there will
not be cleaned up. There are many examples of this in foreign countries all over the world—Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
In the US there are many proving grounds that have been left behind by the
Army/US government—Jefferson Proving Ground in Indiana is but one.
Because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth associated with the US rather than a state of the US, there is no telling how or what will be done. If it were a state of the US, it would get minimal action at a maximum cost, in terms of tax payer dollars. If it were a country outside of US governance, it would get a thumbed nose and told to get lost. My own guess is that Puerto Rico falls someplace in between being a state of the US and a foreign country. Much will depend on how much the Puerto Rican politicians on the island and on the main land speak up.
About the physical aspects of cleaning up the mess left behind, it depends on what they used and how much they separated the various munitions into different areas of Vieques. By that I mean that some areas may be safer than others. It depends on the toxicants in question. The munitions are a large part of the toxicity left behind by the US Army, but not the complete list. To know what they would leave behind besides munitions, imagine all the chemicals that a normal city would use.... then account for the fact that the Army follows NO laws. It makes up its own rules where ever it is. It breaks any law it feels like breaking. It always has done so. But now, with the Bush gang in control, it is done quite openly and without the slightest attempt to conceal it.
Lead can be cleaned up, but it basically means processing all earth wherever it has been used. That would include most munitions except depleted uranium (DU).
DU cannot be cleaned up. Doing that would require scooping up all areas contaminated with it, putting it all in a container and storing it someplace away from people and environment for more than 4.5 billion years. That is the length of uranium's radiological half-life. The Earth has only been here for 4 billion years. So, that basically mean we need to store it for eternity.
The reason for needing to remove the contaminated earth is that when a DU shell explodes—they explode on impact with anything, completely without explosive charges—a large portion of it breaks up into an extremely fine dust that is smaller than a virus and a human blood cell. It is 0.1 microns or smaller. So you can imagine the problem of removing something this small. Essentially, it is impossible. DU particles are not stopped by the Army-issued masks that soldiers wear. It goes right through the masks, without effort, directly into the lungs of the soldiers. From there it is transported to ALL parts of the body via the circulatory system. Whatever remains in the lungs sits there for eternity, irradiating anything it comes in contact with or in proximity to.
Contrary to what the Army and most governments tell the citizens and soldiers, DU is definitely chemically toxic, but even more so, it is radiologically toxic. Gulf War syndrome, which 1/3 of the Gulf War I veterans are suffering from is caused, in large part, by DU. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has formally acknowledged that over 250,000 Gulf War I veterans are now permanently disabled due to Gulf War illness. Other toxicants that contribute to the syndrome are pesticides, plastics, immunizations, antibiotics, and the burning oil wells, and burning materials that have been exploded by the Army. Just the smoke from the munitions alone is toxic. It is a highly soup of chemicals that are employed by the US government. Perhaps it is some consolation to the people of Vieques to know that the soldiers have all been exposed to the same toxicants, but I think it is not. The soldiers are lied to by the Army command and told that DU is harmless. Even if the soldiers wore the protection that the Army gives them, it is entirely ineffective.
For more on DU:
Text of Dr. Doug Rokke Speaking in Los Altos, CA 21apr03
Letter to Congressman McDermott by Leuren Moret 21feb03 (also see attachments!)
Jefferson Proving Ground, Madison, Indiana, USA
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