Department of Transportation rules against secret shipments of radioactive munitions by the Department of Defense
Contact: Sunny Miller (413) 773-7427 (Deerfield, Massachusetts)
Glen Milner (206) 365-7865 (Seattle, Washington)
The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced its intent to end a special exemption, DOT-E 9649, which allows for the secret shipment of radioactive or “depleted uranium” munitions by the Department of Defense.
The DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (HMS) announced plans to phase out the exemption in the next year for new radioactive munitions and in the next two years for munitions already manufactured before transitioning to full compliance with hazardous materials regulations. The special exemption was created in 1986 and has been renewed every two years since.
The highly toxic, radioactive ammunition, also known as “depleted uranium” or DU, has been used in recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The shipments occur on a daily basis throughout the U.S., on our highways, railways, and waterways.
Depleted uranium munitions are a uniquely hazardous material, consisting of a radioactive penetrator which breaks down into small particles when burned, and an explosive charge or combustible propellant in the shell of the cartridge. A fire involving depleted uranium munitions would spread radioactive material around the area of the accident. Under the terms of DOT-E 9649, first responders would not know they were addressing a fire involving radioactive material.