Depleted Uranium Meetings planned in Hawai’i

Contact person: Ms. Cory Harden

Sierra Club, Moku Loa group
PO Box 1137
Hilo, Hawaii 96721

Immediate Release



May 14, 2009, Hilo, Hawai’i

As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans meetings in Hawai’i on a depleted uranium (DU) license for the Army, DU studies at Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) are being questioned, and the NRC and another agency involved in studies have come under fire.

“…[W]hat is proposed by the U.S. Army for future studies at PTA will fall far short of providing the best information possible at this time”, said Dr. Mike Reimer, PhD, a Kona geologist, in a March letter to Army Colonel Howard Killian. “…[T]he study design…may present itself as a feel-good approach, but it is unfortunately misleading…” he adds. Reimer’s background includes chairing the environmental radioactivity section for special meetings within the American Nuclear Society; doing radiation-site contamination evaluations in Eastern Europe; and serving as guest editor for the Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry.

Dr. Lorrin Pang, a WHO consultant, said “Those in charge of the [DU] assessment…do not adequately address the… form of the material, the routes of exposure, distribution in the body of non-soluble vs. soluble compounds, target organs, nor the variations in half-life and clearance from the body…”, in a March e-mail. He added, “…their own referral agencies and advisors on this topic were those whose science was so flawed that they missed diagnosing the existence of Gulf War syndrome… the survey testing…will miss all large remnants of Spotter rounds…The surveys lack controls…to evaluate the specificity and sensitivity of the tests as well as control sites to compare to background radiation levels…The sampling scheme…is very subjective and hard to interpret…” Dr. Pang is a former Army doctor and has been listed in America’s Best Doctors. He is also director of Maui Department of Health, but speaks on DU as a private citizen.

But an Army handout says “DU present on Hawai’i’s ranges does not pose an imminent or immediate threat to human health”.

“To evaluate conflicting views, we invited the Army to participate in a forum with Dr. Reimer and Dr. Pang,” said Cory Harden of Sierra Club, Moku Loa group, “but it appears it will be several months before the Army is prepared to back up its conclusions in a forum.”

Elsewhere, actions of both NRC and another agency involved with the PTA studies–Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)–have been criticized.

The NRC’s recent decision to classify DU as Class A waste was called an “arbitrary and capricious mischaracterization” by the chair and a member of a Congressional Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, who added that “requirements for safe and secure disposal of depleted uranium are much greater than what is required for Class A waste.”

The ATSDR was criticized for using “flawed methods to investigate depleted uranium exposures” in New York State and refusing “to acknowledge a link between a cancer cluster in Pennsylvania and environmental contamination despite persuasive evidence”. The criticism came from witnesses testifying recently to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.

Earlier, the Subcommittee said ATSDR’s “scientifically-flawed” report and “botched response resulted in tens of thousands of survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita remaining in travel trailers laden with high levels of formaldehyde” and there was “a concerted and continuing effort by the agency‘s leadership to both mask their own involvement…and to push the blame…down the line”.

“We urge the public to watch for the NRC meeting dates,” said Harden, ” then show up and insist that recommendations from Dr. Reimer and Dr. Pang be written into the Army DU license. ”


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