Poison Dust

Filmmaker: Sue Harris
Studio: Peoples’ Video Network/LightYear Films.com
Video: 4:3 full screen color
Audio: Dolby Digital stereo
Extras: Trailer, Details of panel in Vieja, Puerto Rico, DVD-ROM display of further DU reports
Length: 1 hour 39 minutes
Rating: ****

While not the flashiest documentary around today – being mainly a series of talking heads coming good quality images with some rather dicey video ones – this is on an important subject which is being kept generally under wraps by the government and media.  It is about young soldiers who thought they came home safely from the Gulf War and Iraq War but discovered they hadn’t.  Thousands of vets now suffer the symptoms of uranium poisoning.  There were many stricken after the Gulf War when only 370 tones of depleted uranium were used, but so far in Iraq thousands of tons have been involved.

I had heard about the symptoms before but never understood the reason why the Pentagon authorized giving arms manufacturers the depleted uranium that came from atomic power generators and from building atom bombs.  Why would they want to use the still highly radioactive metal in making shell casings and bombs?  Dr. Michio Kaku, a physics professor, makes it clear: DU is 1.7 times heavier than pure lead!  So arms-makers want it to penetrate more successfully the armor of tanks, vehicles and any metal target.  Another scientist explains how the DU is vaporized into tiny ceramic particles which are easily breathed in and lodge in the lungs and other organs. The copters and the sandstorms in Iraq blow the dangerous particles everywhere.

The soldiers suffer a variety of debilitating symptoms, including headaches, lack of energy and serious problems with many of their internal organs. Since their return several have fathered children with birth defects identical to those of children in Iraq who have been in areas where DU weaponry was used. When the soldiers first went to Walter Reed Hospital to ask for tests for their condition they were told there weren’t any and they were just having psychosomatic symptoms.  It took a renegade former Walter Reed doctor to do the tests, financed by a New York newspaper, and most of the soldiers were found to have very high DU poisoning. Among the interviewees in the documentary are former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Dr. Helen Caldicott, environmental epidemiologist Dr. Rosalie Bertell, and the former head of the U.S. Army DU project. The film also shows several locations around the world – such as the one in Puerto Rico – where the U.S. Army has admitted they test weaponry with DU, as well as one of the American indian reservations where uranium is mined and some of the residents even build their homes out of mine tailings suffused with radioactive products.

– John Sunier 
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