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Deadly Beaches

I see the Ministry of Defence is claiming that firing radioactive shells into the Solway Firth isn’t the same thing as dumping radioactive waste off Scotland’s coast. If the depleted uranium shells, used for their armour-piercing capabilities, were counted in radio active waste, the British Government would be in breach of international law. But the government’s lawyers advised that the shells weren’t being “dumped”, they were being “placed” in water. The shells go into the sea after they’ve gone through the targets at Dundrennan. An estimated 30 tonnes of depleted uranium has been fired into the sea. Sadly, the Ministry of Defence has a record of being somewhat disingenuous when comes to munitions in the sea off Scotland. I remember silver-coloured waxy lumps of something nasty washing up on Kintyre beaches almost 20 years ago. After a few minutes exposed to air, the lumps burst into an intense unquenchable flame. The government said they were Second World flares. Actually, they were the phosphorous cores of incendiary bombs. Some of the captains of the ships contracted at the end of the Second World War to dump them in the Atlantic west of Ireland had decided instead put them overboard just out of sight of land. When a new fibre optic cable was laid to Northern Ireland, the old boxes of incendiary bombs were broken open and their potentially fatal contents were released. I was disappointed that most of the Scottish media bought into the flare story – flares sound far less dangerous than incendiary bombs.

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