Homegrown weaponry

Depleted uranium munitions should not be produced in Minnesota or anywhere.

Target and 3M are companies Americans envision when they think of all the nice, shiny and plastic things that Minnesota produces. Depleted uranium weapons are the last thing one would expect to be homegrown in this congenial Midwestern state. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. More than 16 million depleted uranium shells have been produced at AlliantTechsystems, whose headquarters are based in Edina. This cannot be understated, and it must be stopped.

A depleted uranium munition is a highly deadly solid metal rod encased in a munition shell. It is produced from the toxic waste of the enrichment of uranium 238 – a radioactive, alpha-emitting heavy metal. What makes this weapon, designed to burn through tank armor, so deadly is that it not only devastates anything it hits, but also that continues to it kill, indiscriminately, long after it has exploded.

When the depleted uranium shell explodes, it produces a uranium oxide dust that is easily inhaled and spread by winds. Since uranium has an extremely slow decay, even one exposure can have irreversible effects that last a lifetime.

Depleted uranium weapons had their debut in the Gulf War, in which 500 tons of depleted uranium were used. Since then, many veterans’ groups and scientists have called for the immediate halt of the use of depleted uranium, citing the possible link to Gulf War Syndrome. Other symptoms caused by the weapons include: hair loss, fatigue, cancer and increased birth defects.

Recently, 42 activists, including one minor, were arrested at the company’s headquarters in Edina for protesting the production of depleted uranium munitions. The activists were part of a 10-year, ongoing weekly protest, but were arrested under a new city ordinance that alleges trespassing.

It gives one pause to think that these nonviolent protesters were arrested simply for voicing their opinion on what the U.S. military calls “the world’s most lethal kinetic energy shell.”