Depleted uranium found in tissue of Gulf War veteran

HALIFAX (7 February 2000) CBC -- THERE IS NEW scientific evidence that may help determine why so many Gulf War veterans are sick.

CBC News has obtained results of tests done on the body of a Gulf veteran who died last year. Terry Riordon of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, asked his wife to give his body to be tested in the hopes of discovering why he was so sick.

Riordon started getting sick shortly after coming home from the Gulf. His military medical file lists everything from memory loss to breathing problems. His wife Sue says near the end, things got worse.

His military file also acknowledges what may be the strangest problem of all: his eyes changed colour in the nine years between his time in the Gulf and his death.

An anti-tank shell coated with depleted uranium, penetrates a target and explodes.

Doctors at the Department of National Defence couldn't decide on a diagnosis. Riordon had post-traumatic stress, they thought, or a seizure disorder, or was a hypochondriac.

When he died last April his wife allowed scientists to harvest tissues from his organs and his bones. The tests were done at a Canadian lab and analysed by Dr. Asaph Durokavic in Washington. "We found in the bone tissue, particularly cancerous bone, that it contained depleted uranium," said Durokavic.

Depleted uranium was used to coat tanks and missiles to harden them. It's radioactive.

Durokavic believes when missiles exploded, radioactive dust was breathed in by veterans. He says Riordon's tests show those radioactive particles never left the body. Durokavic says he's also finding depleted uranium in the urine of living veterans.

But the Canadian military doesn't believe depleted uranium is a factor in Gulf War illnesses. That's why it's not making the testing available to veterans, unlike the United States, where depleted uranium tests are done on any Gulf veteran who asks.

Military will examine depleted uranium tests

Editor's note: Art Eggleton says "it's very sad.'' It's not "very sad.'' It's criminal negligence and it's outrageous.

HALIFAX (7 February 2000) CBC -- Defence Minister Art Eggleton said Monday the military will look closely at medical tests that found disturbing levels of depleted uranium in the body of a Nova Scotia soldier who had served in the Gulf War.

Eggleton said the military is also willing to test any members of the Canadian Forces who fear they may have been exposed to the radioactive material that was used in weapons in the Gulf.

"I think it's very sad, Mr. Riordon's death and the results are something we need to look at and will look at carefully," said Eggleton outside the House of Commons.

But in the past, defence officials have dismissed the health risks of depleted uranium to soldiers during conflicts.

Terry Riordon of Yarmouth, N.S., died last year after a series of illnesses he believed were connected to his time in the Gulf. Riordon was diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome, then post-traumatic stress disorder and finally was labelled a hypochondriac.

But Sue Riordon said her husband's symptoms weren't caused by stress or his imagination. She said even his eyes changed colour.

"They went to a beautiful baby blue. They went to a blue-ish grey and about a year before his death they were almost opaque."

Terry Riordon asked his wife to have his body tested for any mysterious ailments after he died. Tissues from his kidney, liver, brain and bones underwent intricate testing.

CBC News released the results Monday morning which found evidence of depleted uranium still in his body nine years after the war ended.

Dr. Asaph Durakovic, a nuclear medicine specialist in Washington, has conducted tests for depleted uranium in the urine of veterans and analysed the Riordon findings.

"We found in the bone tissue, particularly cancerous bone, that it contained depleted uranium," he said.

Durakovic believes when missiles exploded, radioactive dust was breathed in by veterans. He says Riordon's tests show those radioactive particles never left the body.

Eggleton said the department conducted its own tests on some Canadian soldiers but found no problem with depleted uranium. But he said the military will look at the Riordon results seriously and will arrange tests for any soldier who believes he may be a victim of depleted uranium.


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