Campaigners, parliamentarians and local citizens have blocked a fresh round of DU testing at the Dundrennan range in Scotland after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) shelved plans for the testing necessary to extend the life of the UK's final DU round. This is the first time that the MoD has bowed to public and political pressure and not fired DU as part of the life extension program. Despite local and national objections, the MoD has fired 31 tonnes of DU from the Dundrennan Range near Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, into the Solway Firth since 1982.
Local Member of the Scottish Parliament Aileen Mcleod said: "There's no question as far as I am concerned that this is a clear U-turn on the part of the UK government. Until now they have only ever been willing to say there are no current plans to test-fire DU munitions. The concerted efforts of the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium have obtained the clearest statement to date that there are in fact no plans to test fire DU shells at all during the current, planned life extension programme of the munitions. Although this is a big step forward, the campaign must continue until there is a clear guarantee that there will be no more test firing of DU shells in Scotland at any point in the future."
Campaign Against Depleted Uranium campaigner Rachel Thompson said: "It is clear that this U-turn is linked to increased parliamentary and public opposition to this environmentally dubious and potentially illegal practice. This is a major victory for our campaign and one that reflects the increasing global opposition to DU weapons."
CADU campaigners plan to hold a public meeting in Dumfries at the end of May to discuss further plans with local residents.
In March, it emerged that the Ministry of Defence has been evading an international ban on dumping radioactive waste at sea by redefining thousands of DU weapons fired in the Solway Firth as "placements".
(International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, 29 April 2013, www.bandepleteduranium.org; Campaign Against Depleted Uranium, www.cadu.org.uk; Sunday Herald, 10 March 2013, www.heraldscotland.com)
Dying soldier must raise cash for treatment
Katrina Brown, now 30, was exposed to radioactive material while serving as a medic at a 600-bed military clinic in Basra, Iraq, in 2003 and was later diagnosed with rare systemic sclerosis which is slowly attacking her organs and will eventually lead to her death if left untreated.
Mrs Brown believes the illness is linked to exposure to depleted uranium. She was handed a card before flying home from her 2003 tour warning her she had been in contact with radioactive materials. She says her only hope is having stem-cell transplant to regenerate her organs, but the procedure is not available on the National Health Service and the health service has said it cannot pay for her transatlantic care. Mrs Brown is now trying to find £110,000 to fly out for an operation in the US after being turned down for funding by a host of charities.
(Anna Hodgekiss, 3 April 2013, 'Soldier dying after being exposed to uranium in Iraq must raise £110,000 for treatment because the NHS can't help her', www.dailymail.co.uk)