Ukraine's Depleted Uranium Blast: Europe on Brink of 'Environmental Disaster'
15:46 GMT 19.05.2023 (Updated: 12:48 GMT 19.06.2023)
© PhotoA frame of a CCTV video, purportedly depicting a major blast at an ammo depot in Khmelnintsky, Ukraine.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev warned on Friday that a radioactive cloud was heading towards Western Europe following the destruction of a Ukrainian warehouse storing British-supplied depleted uranium ammunition.
Sputnik News spoke with Dr. Chris Busby, physical chemist and scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, about how the West’s decision to provide depleted uranium (DU) ammunition to Ukraine has potentially caused a continent-wide ecological disaster. Below is his answer in full.
Recently, several web media outlets provided videos of an enormous explosion in the town of Khmelnitski, located to the West of Kiev, and about 200 km from the border with Poland. There were two major explosions which produced a massive roiling swirling fireball which, like an atomic bomb, developed upwards and formed a mushroom cloud, which was black.
I have represented nuclear atmospheric test veterans in the Royal Courts of Justice in London and have seen many films of nuclear explosions: this was not one. A nuclear explosion is characterised by an immediate intense white light which wipes out the camera film or detector.
So, what was it? It was suggested by several commentators that an arms depot that had been hit contained the Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons sent by the UK to the Ukraine for use in the British Challenger tanks as anti-tank penetrators. That the explosion was one involving the burning of the DU in the fireball. Since I am a scientific authority on Uranium and its health effects, but have also examined its dispersion and behaviour in the environment, I will comment on what I believe happened, and why it is important. I was a member of the UK government Ministry of Defence Depleted Uranium Oversight Board (DUOB) in 2000-2005, and also the UK government Committee Examining Radiation Risk from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) 2000-2004. I am Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) which is an independent NGO that provides advice on risk from ionising radiation.
My main research interest in this area is Uranium and health, particularly the DU particles, which are so small they act as a gas and move over very large distances once they are created by the burning of DU. I found them in England in 2003 after they had come from Iraq. I found them in 2023 in England after they came from the Ukraine war. So that is the first thing: the material is able to travel very large distances.
Therefore, if the Khmelnitsky explosion was a DU one, the material would move with the wind direction and should be detectable at monitor sites downwind.
First, we need to say that DU has a gamma signature, it releases gamma rays. The UK and USA governments lie about this. They point to the fact that the U-238, that remains after the fissile U-235 is removed in the centrifuges (and is sent off for nuclear weapons and reactors), is a weak alpha emitter.
They say that alpha radiation cannot penetrate skin and so the DU itself is harmless. That it cannot be detected by a Geiger Counter and the alpha particles don’t make it through the window. There is, of course, a health problem if the post-impact particles are inhaled and pass into the body through the lung into the lymphatic system or directly into the digestive system, but essentially DU is harmless.
What you need to know is that Uranium 238, when it decays with its alpha emission, turns into Thorium-234 and Protoactinium-234m which then turns into Uranium 234. Thorium 234 is a beta and gamma emitter delivering 6% of its decay energy as a gamma ray. Thus, large clouds of DU particulate aerosol will be detectable by gamma detectors.
When I visited Iraq with Al Jazeera in 2000 I went to the south and examined the corpses of the tanks that had been hit by DU in the first Gulf War. Some of the A-10 DU penetrators were still lying around. They gave off an intense gamma ray signal, and the holes in the tanks were highly gamma ray active. So much for only an alpha emitter.
I am a yachtsman: examination of the UK metereological weather pressure maps tell us that at the time, and for days after the explosion, there was an anticyclone to the North of the explosion site and winds were weak but from the South East blowing North Westerly around the high-pressure area. So, the plume would move towards Poland. If the winds were about 5km/h they would reach any Poland detectors 250 km away on the 15th.
After Chernobyl, the European Union set up a Europe-wide gamma radiation detector system that used to give gamma readings in real time. I went to look. But astonishingly, all the data was blocked. The web- based system, administered from Germany, (EURDEP) would not provide the detector maps that are normally available. Luckily, there were some location maps on the web and some that had been already downloaded by colleagues of mine before the system stopped working. I obtained maps from Poland. One of these I show below.
© Photo : The Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring (REM) group of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European CommissionRadiation Levels in Poland in May
Radiation Levels in Poland in May
© Photo : The Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring (REM) group of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission
You will see that a very highly significant increase in gamma radiation occurred at this detector, north west of the explosion site almost exactly when it would be expected on the basis of a distance of 250km and a mean wind speed of 5km/h. The increase, from 60nSv/h to 90nSv/h was highly statistically significant about 50%. Other detectors all across Poland showed an increase*, as the plume passed over them, the increase being weaker the further away (due to dispersion of the plume).
Later, the Poles measured the increase at the Marie Curie Institute in Lublin, but their map was a more sophisticated one and needed some expert interpretation. The Polish map gave gamma increases split into two natural isotopes, Bismuth and Thallium, also total gamma and cosmic ray gamma.
From the map, we are to assume (and this was the implicit message) that the gamma peak was due to Bismuth. Enter Sherlock Holmes. Bismuth 214 is a Radon daughter. The natural background radioactive gas Radon (Rn-222) is always present, since it is produced from Uranium and Radium in the ground. If there is a sudden change in atmospheric pressure, or when it rains, there is a gamma peak from Radon, which shows itself as the Bi-214 peak. So, the Poles seem to be implying that the increase in gamma radiation is normal and nothing to get scared about. Many have picked up on the Bismuth spectrum. But the way in which the Polish graphs are presented is misleading.
The problem with a radon argument is first that the gamma increases go up all across Poland at a time scale that identifies a plume from Khmelnitsky and second that there was a stable anticyclone weather system and no atmospheric pressure changes that might pull radon out of the ground. I checked all that. There was only some light rain over Lublin.
There is, however, an additional possibility. Very fine particles attract Radon: you get a slight increase in gamma from Radon near factory chimneys that emit fine particles.
The European radiation detector system web map came back online on May 18. The map type had been changed and everything we saw in the downloads had disappeared or had been smudged out by data analysis averaging. Why? This, and the early blocking of access to the site suggest panic and cover-up.
So taken all together, what we see is a massive explosion which is thought to be DU, and reports of a spike in gamma radiation near the site. Uranium oxide is black, and the black plume moves north west slowly, the weather pattern is stable and the wind blows to Poland. The Polish EU detectors all show gamma radiation increases at the expected time of arrival of the plume. The EU detector system is shut down rapidly, but not before we have obtained data from several sites. The Poles provide a detector result that identified Bismuth as the cause of the increase, but do not go so far as to formally state that it is (in case of later blowback).
One final piece of evidence. We see videos on the internet of the Ukrainians clearing up the explosion site using Robot vehicles, not ordinary firemen. Why do they need Robot vehicles? The last times we saw Robot vehicles clearing up was in the ruins of Chernobyl and Fukushima.
If I am right, there has been an environmental disaster, and the DU particles will travel across Poland, Germany and Hungary, and will end up in the Baltics, probably later the whole of Europe including the UK (after all, the Chernobyl Uranium particles came to the UK).
They will deliver genetic damage and death like that seen in the Balkans and Iraq. Cancer, birth defects, miscarriage, infertility, lung damage, mental problems (Gulf War Syndrome) and so forth. The scientific and epidemiological evidence on this has been clear since the Gulf War. It is all there in the scientific literature—but the governments in the West and the military ignore it, deny it and cover it up. In the case of the UK coroners court finding for Stuart Dyson, the jury found that DU caused his fatal colon cancer. But when the coroner wrote to the health minister (as he had to by UK law, Rule 43) the reply was: we disagree. This stuff can be measured, but no one will measure it, or if they do, they will be attacked and their arguments dismissed.
Even if I am wrong, and there is some other explanation for the gamma peaks, DU must be banned. It is a weapon of indiscriminate effect and kills civilians, the enemy and your own troops (well, Ukrainian troops). It is much worse than a war gas, like Sarin, or phosgene, mustard gas or all the other chemical agents banned by civilisation. This stuff destroys the genetic basis of life itself. And no one does anything. Those who use it base their action on obsolete science supported by dishonest epidemiology carried out by dishonest scientists and obsolete and fantastical risk models.
Those who provide the weapons, the UK government in this case, are morally bankrupt. Unless it is their intention to destroy the Ukrainian people. Who knows anymore? The world has gone mad.
*Poland's National Atomic Energy Agency claims there is no increase in radiation levels