West Uses Ukraine as Settling Tank for Outdated and Dangerous Equipment
The British Ministry of Defense has admitted that hundreds of UK Army tanks and armored vehicles could contain asbestos, a potentially hazardous material banned in the UK. Some of those tanks have likely been sent to Ukraine.
Over 2,000 pieces of equipment, including Challenger 2 tanks
, infantry fighting vehicles
, and Bulldog personnel carriers
, belonging to the British Armed Forces may have asbestos-containing
materials (ACMs), according to the nation's Defense Ministry.
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals that are resistant to fire and corrosion. It is also an excellent thermal and electrical insulator. However, when asbestos materials become damaged, tiny fibers could get stuck in the lungs, leading to asbestosis – a scarring of the lung tissue – and mesothelioma, a type of cancer.
UK lawmakers first introduced asbestos prohibiting laws in the mid-1980s. Since 1999, the import, supply, and use of all asbestos have been effectively barred in the country. An EU-wide ban on asbestos was issued in 2005. Since then, the bloc has issued a plethora of directives on environmental pollution, chemical safety, workers' protection, and consumer products concerning the use of dangerous asbestos.
The MoD announced that "plans are underway to eliminate" any asbestos containing materials (ACMs). Still, the UK provided the Kiev regime with at least 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks
- potentially riddled with banned ACMs. Was this a way to "eliminate" ACM-containing weapons in the UK's stockpiles? Sputnik's interlocutor does not rule out such a probability.
"This once again shows that Ukraine has become a sort of a settling tank for very old and sometimes even dangerous equipment, which did not undergo any certification or safety checks, and was simply provided, sometimes for the purpose of disposal, because asbestos is quite difficult to dispose of," Alexey Anpilogov, military analyst, head of the Foundation center, told Sputnik.
"For many sponsors and supposed benefactors of Ukraine, this kind of transfer of equipment, which contains dangerous chemical components, is generally an option to get rid of problems that they have simply had for decades, rusting somewhere in their backyard," the military analyst added.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
"The main underlying problem with asbestos is its tiny fibers, which when the asbestos sheet breaks down are released and damage cell membranes. Mainly in the respiratory organs. Because in this case, a person can inhale fine asbestos in the form of dust. And this is very traumatic for cells," explained Anpilogov.
"If asbestos was used in factories or used in production, workers were found to have abnormal levels of window diseases, primarily lung cancer. And this was precisely the reason for the ban on asbestos, which is now no longer used in a number of previously traditional applications, mainly related to its heat resistance, and is now being replaced by other compounds," continued the military analyst.
Asbestos has long been widely used in various industries, including construction. Currently, some types and forms of asbestos are still in use worldwide. Nonetheless, there is a consensus that amphibole asbestos is one of the most dangerous types of asbestos, since amphiboles remain in the lungs for a longer period of time.
Why Do UK Armored Vehicles Contain Asbestos?
"It can be assumed that asbestos could act as one of the components of various combined protective armor, where materials of different strength and density are used. And a kind of sandwich is created from various materials designed to break up and reduce the influence of the cumulative jet. If armored vehicles are hit, for example, by a cumulative projectile," said Anpilogov.
Cumulative shells literally burn through armor due to the energy of a directed explosion – a narrow, concentrated stream of explosion products. The speed of the cumulative jet is about 10 kilometers per second.
To mitigate the risk of cumulative shell attacks, tank armor is typically made of several layers of ceramics or steel with a low-density fire-proof interlayer material between them. The cumulative jet penetrates through the first layer of armor and gets stuck in the fillers.
Thus, the UK decided to use asbestos as "fillers" in their tanks and armored vehicles. According to international observers, asbestos is used in the form of a fabric that is laid between layers of armor and absorbs a fairly large amount of heat that the cumulative jet creates when the armor is broken.
However, the problem is that Western arms-makers are eager to use toxic hazardous materials in order to create armor resistance to a cumulative jet, highlighted Anpilogov.
"Here we can recall the use of depleted uranium, for example, for the armor of Abrams tanks, which are also not some kind of target compound, but are quite harmful not only to the environment, but even to the crew of the tank in which the same combined uranium is used," the military analyst underscored.