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[casi] Iraq:US military radiation expert backs Greenpeace

Iraq: US military radiation expert backs Greenpeace
Wednesday, 25 June 2003, 8:47 am
Press Release: Greenpeace

US military radiation expert backs Greenpeace call for full inspection of
contaminated communities in Iraq
Baghdad June 24 2003: A US military health physicist and radiation expert in
Iraq today endorsed the call from Greenpeace for the UN nuclear experts, the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to be given a full mandate to
search, survey and decontaminate towns and villages around the Tuwaitha
nuclear facility near Baghdad.

The call, made by the head of the US Army Center for Health Promotion and
Preventative Medicine, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Melanson, came after
Greenpeace activists returned a large canister containing uranium
‘yellowcake’ to the Tuwaitha facility this morning. The canister, the size
of a small vehicle, had been left abandoned in an open field in a nearby
village. When they invaded Iraq, the US and UK failed to safeguard dangerous
nuclear material, secured at Tuwaitha while under Saddam Hussein’s regime,
and highly radioactive materials have ended up in local communities where
they are threatening people's health and environment.

"I would recommend the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the
World Health Organisation get involved and do an assessment. They've got
involved in other instances, like in Brazil, where sources have ended up
being distributed in the community and they actually assess the risks from
that," said Lt. Col. Melanson of the US military. "The faster it happens the

His comments came the same day the IAEA were due to leave Iraq, having only
been allowed by the occupying powers to return to Iraq to carry out a
limited inventory inside the Tuwaitha nuclear plant. The Greenpeace team,
that has been in the country for only a week conducting surveys in the local
community living near the plant, has found a number of radioactive areas
including one in a house that measured 10,000 times above normal levels and
another outside a 900 pupil primary school that measured 3,000 times above
normal levels.

Today, having returned one radiation source to the US military, Greenpeace
took them to the radioactive house where troops verified the levels of
contamination at 10,000 higher than normal, removed the source and took it
back to the Tuwaitha complex for storage.

"The military has rightly taken back both these highly dangerous radiation
sources," said Mike Townsley of Greenpeace. The action Greenpeace took today
merely serves to highlight a much larger radioactive crisis. The US and UK
must accept full responsibility for this situation and allow the UN nuclear
experts to return to Iraq as soon as possible and do a full investigation
without interference from the occupying forces,” he added.

Notes: For a copy of today’s earlier press release please contact the press
office or see

Two members of the Greenpeace team are maintaining a weblog of their mission
to Iraq. You can review a history of the expedition to date and monitor live
developments at

For additional briefings on Tuwaitha, health impacts of radiation exposure,
the risk of ‘dirty’ bombs and other information please go to:

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