Local News

Gulf War Vets Cautious About Blaming Uranium

Posted March 2, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— As many as 400,000 US troops may have been exposed to uranium during the Gulf War. The National Gulf War Resource Center says the Pentagon knew about the health risks but did not warn troops. Many Gulf War vets say they're familiar with the uranium concerns, but they're reserving judgement until test results prove uranium is making veterans sick.

Exposure to the hazardous particles of uranium occurred when troops were around shells fired by US tanks and aircraft, according to the report.

CSM Steve Slocum is a Gulf War veteran. He says he specifically looked into the uranium concern when he first heard about it two years ago.

"Everything I've read and understood about the use of uranium pellet ammunition is of such an insignificant amount, it really didn't cause any concern to the chain of command," Slocum says.

The report says the Pentagon knew that troops were exposed to airborne dust that contained hazardous particles of uranium that could have been toxic if inhaled or ingested.

Some vets say time will tell if the concerns are legitimate, including Army reservist Bob Pratt. If there are some troops suffering from uranium, it takes time to find out what it is and find out what the causes are and maybe some solutions.

Gulf War veterans say so many studies and reports have been done, it's hard to determine exactly what's caused so many to get sick. Many plan to take out some time to study the subject and try to learn more about the uranium concern and the group that conducted the study.

The group says the troops may have been exposed to depleted uranium. That's a metal residue left when natural uranium is refined. When a depleted uranium shell hits its target, some of the metal burns and oxidizes into small particles. The airborne dust can be toxic, if inhaled or ingested. Reporter: John McDonnellPhotographer: Doug Bricker