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Operation Desert Storm: Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium Contamination

NSIAD-93-90 Published: Jan 29, 1993. Publicly Released: Jan 29, 1993.
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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed depleted-uranium (DU) contamination of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams Tanks during the Persian Gulf War, focusing on: (1) U.S. soldiers' exposure to DU; (2) Army guidance and training on the proper handling and risks of DU and ways to minimize DU exposure; (3) Army medical evaluations for personnel exposed to DU radiation; and (4) the effectiveness of Army decontamination and disposal of DU-contaminated combat vehicles.

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should ensure that the appropriate Army training schools provide adequate information and training to personnel who could come in contact with DU-contaminated equipment.
Closed – Implemented
According to DOD, the Army has developed three new training programs to meet the needs of personnel involved with depleted uranium detection and handling.
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should develop time frames to implement the proposed DU testing policy involving the testing of all crew members inside vehicles penetrated by DU munitions.
Closed – Implemented
According to DOD, the Army Surgeon General has completed identification and initial testing of soldiers exposed to depleted uranium. No elevated levels of contamination were found. Subsequent medical evaluations will be scheduled as appropriate.
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should expand testing to include personnel involved in the vehicle recovery process should the testing of the Army National Guard personnel show that uranium is present in excess of the standards being applied in the medical tests.
Closed – Implemented
DOD agreed to expand testing to include personnel in the vehicle recovery process.
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should develop a formal plan for dealing with the recovery of DU-contaminated equipment.
Closed – Implemented
According to DOD, the Army has developed procedures for recovery, decontamination, and repair or disposal of vehicles and equipment damaged by DU munitions. These plans and procedures are being incorporated into an Army regulation on depleted uranium contamination.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the other military services are prepared to decontaminate and dispose of DU-contaminated equipment and have appropriate training and guidance for personnel who may be exposed to DU.
Closed – Implemented
According to DOD, the services now have plans or guidance in place governing procedures and policies for the safe handling and disposal of equipment contaminated with depleted uranium.

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Topics

Army personnelDecontaminationGround warfareContaminationMedical examinationsMilitary land vehiclesMilitary trainingRadiation exposure hazardsRadiation safetyRadiological warfareSafety standardsWaste disposal