UK radiation increases - a local phenomenon or something more sinister?

Results from radiation detectors at testing stations in the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston and four other stations within a 10-mile radius, have revealed a fourfold increase in uranium levels in the atmosphere after the “shock and awe” bombing campaign against Iraq, according to a report produced by Chris Busby, of Liverpool University’s department of human anatomy and cell biology.

Environmental scientists who uncovered the figures through freedom of information laws say it is evidence that radiation from depleted uranium shells was carried by wind currents to Britain.

Each detector recorded a large rise in uranium levels during the Gulf war bombing campaign in March 2003. The reading from a park in Reading was high enough for the Environment Agency to be alerted. Mr Busby believes that “uranium aerosols” from Iraq were widely dispersed in the atmosphere and blown across Europe. The report says that weather conditions over the war period showed a consistent flow of air from Iraq northwards.

The Ministry of Defence refused to accept the findings of the report and stated that it was “unfeasible” depleted uranium could have travelled so far. Radiation experts also said that other environmental sources were more likely to blame. Government officials said that local environmental sources, such as power stations, were more likely to be the cause. The Environment Agency said detectors at other sites did not record a similar increase, which suggested a local source.

UK radiation jump blamed on Iraq shells (Sunday Times, 19 February 2006)