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Re: [Way off topic] depleted uranium



On Mon, 2005-01-03 at 10:13 -0500, Christopher Judd wrote:
> On 29 Dec, dorn hetzel wrote:
> > On Wed, Dec 29, 2004 at 09:48:56AM -0800, bandito wrote:
> >> i think they'd be used more as an environmental contaminant than
> >> something intended to actually cause death... setting off a big one in a
> >> city wouldnt kill THAT many people, but it'd keep them out of the
> >> contaminated area until the radioactive material was cleaned up (or a
> >> few millions years passes, whichever comes first).
> >> in that respect, i think the result is a bit similar
> >>
> > DU as a contaminant isn't really much more or less problematic than
> > say lead or mercury.  Well, in some respects it's easier to clean up
> > because it's very easy to separate from the environment because of
> > it's radically heavier weight.
> > 
> > DU's unique property that gets it used in so many weapons systems
> > is its rather amazing density, pretty much the best transmitter of
> > energy in the kinetic form that there ever was.  Not saying that
> > justifies it's use, just that it explains it...
> > 
> > -Dorn
> 
>      Not exactly.  In addition to its high density (~3 times that of
> lead), uranium is autopyrophorric.  What that means is that when the
> shell hits a hard object, it ignites and burns.  Good for killing people
> in tanks, but not for the environment.  When a DU shell burns, the
> uranium oxides formed rapidly undergo gas to particle conversion.  About
> 65 % of the particles formed are less than 5 microns in diameter.
> Particles in this size range can be transported for thousands of
> kilometers, and are respirable, depositing in the lung tissue.  In
> addition, they can be resuspended from the ground by wind.  The extent
> to which this occurs depends on the soil type, and is greatest in dry,
> sandy soils, which unfortunately are the places where most DU has been
> used.

And what is it about depleted UO2 that is bad for people: chemical
toxicity, or radioactivity?

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Ron Johnson, Jr.
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"Being Politically Correct means always having to say you're
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