Skip to main content

Depleted Uranium

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are taken to monitor civilian populations who have been in danger of exposure to depleted uranium; and how many persons so exposed have responded to newspaper advertisements and have been voluntarily tested for contamination. (246605)

It is the responsibility of sovereign states where depleted uranium (DU) munitions have been used to monitor for any possible health risk to the civilian population. The Ministry of Defence has conducted environmental surveys for DU in southern Iraq and the Balkans. No widespread DU contamination sufficient to impact the health of the general population or deployed personnel has been found in these surveys. Similar studies have been carried out by the United Nations in the Balkans and Kuwait and information presented at a recent conference suggests that the results of environmental monitoring by Iraqi scientists will be published later this year.

In 2004-05, the independent Depleted Uranium Oversight Board (DUOB) placed adverts in UK newspapers announcing the availability of a retrospective testing programme for the analysis of uranium isotopes in urine. The test was offered to eligible ex-Service or serving personnel and certain categories of civilians who served in the Persian Gulf area between 1 August 1990 and 31 July 1991 or in the former Republic of Yugoslavia on or after 5 August 1994. A total of 496 individuals took up the offer to be tested. No evidence of the excretion of DU was found in the urine of any of the individuals tested. As far as we are aware, there has been no other initiative of this type.