Skip to main content

Depleted Uranium

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to evaluate whether depleted uranium dust arising from the use of depleted uranium munitions by Coalition forces in Iraq has been blown into urban areas of Iraq; and what assistance is being given to the current evaluation by the United Nations Environment Programme of the environmental impact of the invasion of Iraq. [111241]

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will assess depleted uranium (DU) levels in the environment as part of its post-conflict environmental survey of Iraq later this year.In support of the UNEP survey, the Ministry of Defence has provided UNEP with details of United Kingdom DU firing locations and has offered to provide advice on carrying out risk assessments on DU within urban areas and on long-term monitoring of DU in the environment, including water. In June 2003, MOD scientists completed a preliminary technical assessment of some Iraqi equipment and sites thought to have been struck by DU rounds. MOD officials presented their findings to UNEP on 10 July 2003. UNEP welcomed the MOD presentation and agreed that future surveys should be coordinated with MOD to avoid duplication and obtain maximum scientific benefit.The Department for International Development has, in principle, agreed to part-fund the UNEP assessment of post-conflict environmental issues in Iraq. In her 11 June letter to the Executive Director of UNEP, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, made clear that Government officials would continue to share information with UNEP's Post Conflict Assessment Unit and also indicated that UK civil servants seconded to the Coalition Provisional Authority, and our Armed Forces, could provide the UNEP assessment team with information and practical assistance on technical, operational and sustainable development issues. My right hon. Friend and UK Government officials have since met UNEP representatives to discuss their work programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much depleted uranium, by weight, has been recovered in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [119451]

[holding answer 19 June 2003]: No depleted uranium has been recovered in Iraq. Surface lying depleted uranium (DU) ammunition will be cleared from the battlefield along with dangerous remnants of war. Since DU strikes do not pose an immediate threat to health and safety we will not be undertaking any recovery of DU buried in the ground, except where required in small quantities for scientific purposes to support the Ministry of Defence corporate DU programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reporting was undertaken by Challenger 2 tank crews in respect of recording the firing of depleted uranium ammunition during the recent Gulf conflict; and whether similar measures were undertaken during the 1991 Gulf conflict. [119199]

The tonnage of Depleted Uranium ammunition fired by Challenger 2 tanks in the recent Gulf conflict and of the location of the Challenger tanks when engagements took place has been recorded by the Ministry of Defence and this information has been made available to the UNEP. Similar measures were not undertaken during the 1991 Gulf War.