HC Deb 20 December 1999 vol 341 cc355-6W
Mr. Todd

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research he has commissioned on the impact on health of oxide dust created by the use of depleted uranium weapons. [102747]

Mr. Spellar

The potential hazards caused by depleted uranium are well understood and are widely documented in existing scientific literature. The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency's Radiation Protection Service, then the Defence Radiological Protection Service, published in 1993 a summary report of its assessment of the radiological and chemical hazards of depleted uranium. The report explained that there are two types of hazard posed by the use of depleted uranium: a radiation hazard, although depleted uranium is a low specific activity material (as defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency); and a chemical toxicity hazard, which is similar to that posed by other heavy metals, such as lead. A copy of the summary report has been placed in the Library of the House.

In addition, on 19 March, the then Minister of State for the Armed Forces published a detailed paper "Testing for the presence of depleted uranium in UK veterans of the Gulf conflict: The Current Position". This paper describes the scenarios in which UK troops may have been exposed to DU in the Gulf and outlines the possible health effects of such exposures. It also includes reference to the case narrative "Depleted Uranium in the Gulf', published by the US Department of Defense; this case narrative sets out details of the programme of testing being conducted in the United States in the context of veterans possibly exposed to depleted uranium during the Gulf conflict. Copies of the paper have been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Livsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent reports he has received on radiation which has been measured in the vicinity of impacts of ammunition containing depleted uranium. [103391]

Mr. Spellar

I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Gill

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the incidence of birth deformities in areas where ordnance containing depleted uranium has been used. [102581]

Mr. Spellar

No assessment has been undertaken by my Department of the incidence of birth deformities where ammunition containing uranium has been used. We are not aware of any peer-reviewed epidemiological studies or validated data to suggest a link between ammunition containing depleted uranium and birth deformities. My Department would consider carefully any such studies or data if these became available.