Depleted uranium (DU): a holistic consideration of DU and related matters.


Following the use of depleted uranium (DU) during the Gulf and Balkan conflicts, unnecessary and costly confusion has existed for some 11 years concerning the hazard it constitutes, despite the fact that sufficient data are available to answer most of the relevant questions. In tracing the significance of uranium in the environment and humans, too much reliance is still placed upon the extrapolation of animal data. The existing radiological nomenclature is far too involved and complex to understand, let alone implement. The excellence of early health physics seems to have been lost, and hence there is a failure to utilise the large body of knowledge, and the manner in which it was obtained, in other disciplines. Health physics has failed to understand the nature of some natural processes that ultimately control radiation dose to the environment and humans. Examination of three types of DU, in particular the highly radioactive and potentially hazardous unprocessed, spent-reactor uranium fuel debris (UDU), alluded to as hot particles, has been poorly studied on the basis of scarcity in the environment. Fundamental geological processes are described which illustrate that, as a consequence of routine operation of nuclear reprocessing plants, especially in the past, and following reactor accidents, natural processes can result in an enrichment of DU particles in most types of sediment. Failure to grasp essential geological processes in relation to the dispersion of radionuclides in the environment is detrimental to public acceptance of an essential form of energy in association with others.

Cite this paper

@article{Hamilton2001DepletedU, title={Depleted uranium (DU): a holistic consideration of DU and related matters.}, author={Eric I Hamilton}, journal={The Science of the total environment}, year={2001}, volume={281 1-3}, pages={5-21} }