A number of American troops from the same unit in Iraq recently discovered they were all suffering from a mysterious set of illnesses. Though their doctors couldn?t determine the source of the sickness, the soldiers came to believe their exposure to depleted uranium munitions was to blame, and decided to sue the U.S. Army.
Reed believes depleted uranium has contaminated him and his life. He now walks point in a vitriolic war over the Pentagon’s arsenal of it—thousands of shells and hundreds of tanks coated with the metal that is radioactive, chemically toxic, and nearly twice as dense as lead.
A shell coated with depleted uranium pierces a tank like a hot knife through butter, exploding on impact into a charring inferno. As tank armor, it repels artillery assaults. It also leaves behind a fine radioactive dust with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
Depleted uranium is the garbage left from producing enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and energy plants. It is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium. The United States has an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of it, sitting in hazardous waste storage sites across the country. Meaning it is plentiful and cheap as well as highly effective.