Go to Press Release

H.R. 1483 - Depleted Uranium Munitions Study Act of 2003 (Introduced in House)
(also available as a pdf. file)


The following letter attached the Major Doug Rokke interview with Sunny Miller,
Director of Traprock Peace Center (published by YES! magazine.)
(The entire interview was originally a radio interview (mp3 file).

March 19, 2003

A letter to House colleagues by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)



Support the Depleted Uranium Munitions Act of 2003


Dear Colleague,


I am planning to introduce legislation requiring studies on the health and environmental impact of depleted uranium (DU) munitions, as well as cleanup and mitigation of depleted uranium contamination at sites within the U.S. where DU has been used or produced.


As a medical doctor, I have been concerned about this issue for some time, beginning when veterans of the Gulf War started to experience unexplained illnesses. My concern deepened after visiting Iraq, where the incidence of severely deformed infants and childhood cancers has skyrocketed. 


Depleted uranium is toxic and carcinogenic and it may well be associated with elevated rates of birth defects in babies born to those exposed to it. We had troops coming home sick after the Gulf War, and depleted uranium may be one of the factors responsible for that.


The military finds depleted uranium, a by-product of the uranium enrichment process, a highly effective battlefield tool. Because of its density, it acts as a protective shield around tanks, for example. It is also part of munitions like armor-piercing bullets.  Because it tends to spontaneously ignite upon impact, it is used to cause explosions.


Depleted uranium is also linked to grave health concerns because of its chemical toxicity and low-level radioactivity. When depleted uranium explodes, soldiers are exposed to DU in the form of alpha-emitting airborne particles that are inhaled and shrapnel that gets embedded in the body. They are also exposed through unprotected contact with equipment.


About 300 metric tons of depleted uranium were used in the Iraq during the Gulf War, and many citizens of Iraq as well as veterans of the Gulf War have experienced terrible health problems-many say as a consequence of depleted uranium. Increased rates of cancers, leukemia, and birth malformations are among the health problems that may be linked to DU.


The Pentagon has sent mixed signals about the effects of depleted uranium, at times claiming DU is not a health hazard, and at other times acknowledging the need for sophisticated protective gear and safety training regarding exposure to DU. 


The need for these studies is imperative and immediate. We cannot knowingly put the men and women of our armed forces in harm’s way.


I am attaching an interview with Major Doug Rokke, published in YES Magazine in its spring 2003 issue. Doug Rokke has a PhD in health physics. During the last Gulf War he was assigned to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare.


Please let me know if you would like to become a co-sponsor of the “Depleted Uranium Munitions Study Act of 2003”. To sign up or for more information please contact Lars Berger in my office at 225-3106 or lars.berger@mail.house.gov.




Jim McDermott

Member of Congress