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Topic: radioactive waste  (Read 9819 times)

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Offline billnotgatez

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radioactive waste
« on: March 02, 2006, 08:40:22 AM »
Someone posted this elsewhere and I am not sure it is correct.

As for "radioactive waste" - the depleted uranium used
in armor-piercing rounds is the uranium that is left
over after as much U-235 as possible is REMOVED from
it. In other words, it is LESS radioactive than the
original natural uranium metal, which only contains,
at most, 0.7% U-235. If DU were dangerous, uranium
miners would be dying like flies.

Offline pantone159

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Re:radioactive waste
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2006, 03:26:17 PM »
Yes, DU is less radioactive than natural uranium.  The U-235 is removed, and, more importantly, so is the U-234.
The latter is only a tiny fraction of the U present, but it has the same radioactivity (in decays/sec) as the U-238 which it is in equilibrium with.

The hazard depends very much on whether you ingest it.  If you have a piece of solid DU sitting on the floor in a room with you, the hazard is negligible.  Part of the reason for this is that U is mainly an alpha emitter, and alphas have almost no penetration ability, they will not get through your skin or even a foot of air, for example.  If you inhale very fine dust, (such as that produced by a DU armor-piercing round on impact), this is another matter entirely, as you get it in your lungs where it sticks, and the alphas are easily able to get to your cells from there.  U is also chemically toxic.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2006, 03:31:10 PM by Mark Kness »

Offline pantone159

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Re:radioactive waste
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2006, 03:54:37 PM »
I have heard a number of anecdotal reports of people (mainly in Iraq, for obvious reasons) getting sick from exposure to dust from DU rounds.  I don't know of any scientific study of the effects of such dust exposure, however.  The US DoD likes to use the lack of any studies to back their claim that the DU is harmless to everybody.

But when you notice (as I have read) that US military personnel deals with tanks destroyed by DU, their personnel work in full body protective suits, you can tell that they are lying.  (Besides the fact that the DoD is about the least credible information source imaginable.)

Again, if the DU is still in a big chunk, it is no significant hazard at all.

icepolo23

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Re:radioactive waste
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2006, 07:44:01 AM »
The DU  itself doesn’t represent much of a risk. As Mark said the alpha particle emitted by DU doesn’t travel too far and it can be easily stopped by any obstacle as cloth or even paper. However when materials composed of DU burn, as it happens every moment in war zones, dangerous oxides which of course are radioactive can be created. This oxides represent a more real threat to human health.
Most of those “anecdotal reports” that Mark mentions are enough real. US soldiers are also very well informed on how to handle contaminated equipment, to avoid contamination, specially destroyed armored vehicles.
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