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Scottish firing range occupied by depleted uranium campaigners

Activists from the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium are staging a mass walk-on at the Dundrennan firing range near Kirkudbright to protest at the MoD’s test firing of radioactive and toxic depleted uranium weapons into the Solway Firth.
6 November 2013 - ICBUW

The action is part of the part of the International Day of Action Against Depleted Uranium Weapons. CADU and their supporters will plant a memorial garden on the range, in solidarity with the children and families of Iraq, who continue to suffer the health consequences of toxic wars.

A motion submitted in the Scottish Parliament by Aileen McLeod MSP earlier this week congratulating CADU on its ongoing campaign against test firing in Scotland has attracted the support of 32 SNP, Green and independent MSPs.

Aileen McLeod, MSP for Dumfries and Galloway said: “I congratulate CADU on their continuing efforts to highlight the very serious concerns surrounding the use of depleted uranium munitions both in tests in this country and in war zones across the world. Dundrennan has been used for testing these munitions for thirty years and it is estimated that around 31 tonnes of depleted uranium is now in the Solway Firth as a result of these tests, without any proper assessment of the environmental impacts of this activity having been undertaken.”

Earlier this year, the MoD were forced to cancel a fresh round of testing after a FoI release revealed their concerns that the dumping of DU in the Solway Firth breached the UK’s obligations under the OSPAR Convention, which limits the dumping of toxic waste in the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. The MoD claimed that the 31 tonnes of munitions had been placed on the seabed – placement is allowed under OSPAR - but the FoI revealed that the MoD had no intention of retrieving the ammunition.

Concern over the civilian health impact of the use of DU munitions continues to grow. Earlier this year 53,000 people signed a petition calling for the Iraqi Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation to release data on the rates of congenital birth defects in Iraq. The petition was launched by a paediatrician from Fallujah after the BBC reported that Iraqi ministry officials and researchers admitted that rates of birth defects were higher in areas subject to heavy fighting in the 2003 invasion. A summary report which was published quietly on September 11th has been roundly criticised after it claimed that birth defect rates in Iraq were around half that reported in the UK. Many former high ranking UN officials including former UN Humanitarian Coordinator Hans Von Sponeck, and the former WHO Head of Mission for Iraq Neel Mani, have also expressed their concerns over the politicisation of the report.

CADU Campaigner, Rachel Thompson said: “It seemed only right when deciding what action to do that we link the controversial development of this toxic weapon to the dire consequences of their use on the ground in Iraq. I am yet to meet a person in Scotland who is happy that these weapons were tested here and they are horrified when they hear the suffering of the children and families of Iraq.”

The guerilla gardening on the firing range proceeded well:

Work begins on memorial garden

Site found after a quick check for unexploded ordnance.

Busy planting

Planting begins around the central peace symbol motif.

Garden in all its glory

Job done, a welcome addition to the MoD's firing range.

Detail of plaque

Detail of the memorial plaque in memory of the victims of Iraq's toxic wars.

 


Notes:

BBC coverage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-24835544