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Depleted Uranium, Depleted Health

To the Editor:

My sincere thanks for publishing the piece by Geraldean Hourigan [“One Half-Life to Live,” Feb. 5]. My father died in 1990 of multiple myeloma (bone cancer) after working at National Lead for 10 years during the height of its toxic emissions of depleted uranium. His diagnosis was a qualifier for benefits under the federal Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act. For the past two years I have been pursuing this claim for my mother as his surviving spouse. I never expect to see any money for her, but I persist to keep the issue active before our government. When I initially made the claim through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute of Safety and Health, National Lead’s records on my father’s radiation exposure levels were not available; the remaining plant records had been dispersed to other states, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Repeated phone calls to NIOSH did not give a date when the “dosage reconstruction” would take place, so I contacted Congressman John Sweeney’s office to intercede. When they received no response to “congressional inquiries,” I began to realize the magnitude of the problem. I’m now receiving regular claim reports from the U.S. Department of Health. Out of 13,641 cases submitted for dosage reconstruction claims under EEOICPA, the number awaiting a final decision is only 1,215. National Lead’s Colonie site is not even listed as a site “under development” for dosage reconstructions by NIOSH.

The saddest thing for me is that my country went to war in Iraq because of purported weapons of mass destruction, then proceeded to nuke the place with tons of depleted uranium, knowing the health effects on civilians and the military. The residents in the vicinity of the National Lead plant are justified in their outrage and concern. The Colonie site is a wound in the body of America, and no one should give up the pursuit of its healing through public outcry. Please continue to provide a valuable forum for this issue.

Mary Beth Vought
Central Bridge

To the Editor:

“One Half-Life to Live” gave a very interesting overview of the many community health concerns related to NL Industries’ devastating radioactive and chemical pollution. There were a few errors in the article.

The community wants answers about what NL’s toxic emissions did to them. The 250-plus residents who completed a community-health survey believe their illnesses and injuries may be related to NL’s pollution—and are interested in a health study and assessment to determine if this is the case. While Yardboro Avenue was heavily contaminated, depleted uranium (DU) pollution was found well beyond this street adjacent to NL. Soil surveys found significant DU pollution up to a quarter-mile from the factory. Unfortunately, no government soil testing has been done to follow up on physicist Leonard Dietz’s critical finding that DU particulates were found up to 26 miles away from NL. The federal health agency, Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), in its August 2003 report, found that NL’s emissions were clearly “a public health hazard to the community surrounding the Colonie site” while the plant was operating. Right now, residents are seeking a comprehensive health study and investigating the possibility of legal action.

Anne Rabe
Tom Ellis
NL Health Study Committee
Citizens’ Environmental Coalition


In “Unfit for Print?” [Newsfront, Feb. 5], we inaccurately reported that Rensselaer would experience an increased traffic flow of 60 trucks per minute if the newspaper recycling facility were to be built there. This is, in fact, what Eric Daillie told Metroland. However, upon further investigation, it appears he meant 60 trucks per hour, or one truck per minute. The Rensselaer City Council’s resolution to reject the project says a peak day could see about 508 trucks passing through town.

In “One Half-Live to Live” [Feb. 5], we reported that the smokestacks on the National Lead plant were 1,000 feet tall. In fact, the smoke plumes from the stacks were 1,000 feet tall, not the stacks themselves.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
or e-mail us at

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