TAB D -
United Nations Environment Programme Report on Depleted Uranium in Kosovo 
Summary. On March 13,
2001, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released its final report on the
environmental impact of depleted uranium ammunition used during the 1999 Kosovo conflict.
The report builds on the UNEP October 1999 Desk Assessment Study of the potential effects
of the use of DU during conflict. Although the radiological and chemical risks for all of
the sample results were insignificant, the report recommended the recovery of surface DU
penetrators and jackets at all sites, localized decontamination (as appropriate), and
further groundwater monitoring. In a December 2000 journal article, the Swedish Radiation
Protection Institute summarized the UNEP 1999 assessment and previewed the results of the
UNEP 2001 report prior to its publication.
- There was no detectable widespread DU
contamination of the ground surface.
- Detectable DU ground surface contamination
was limited to areas within a few meters of DU penetrators and points of concentrated
contamination caused by penetrator impacts. Most of the contamination points were only
slightly contaminated. In many cases, the radioactivity was so low that it was hardly
- In terms of the possible contamination of
air, water, or plants, there was no significant risk related to those contamination
points. However, the report said that while the radiological risk from the intake of
contaminated soil or from touching the penetrator would be insignificant, the
toxicological risk could be somewhat higher than applicable health standards.
- UNEP found no DU-contaminated water, milk,
objects, or buildings.
- Without explanation, the report states:
"Heavy firing of DU in one area could increase the potential source of uranium
contamination of groundwater by a factor of 10 to 100. While the radiation doses will be
very low, the resulting uranium concentration might exceed WHO health standards for
- UNEP detected very small quantities
(parts per billion) of uranium-236 and plutonium when a DU penetrator was
analyzed, posing no significant hazard.
Although the results of the analyses of the samples collected suggested that there is no
immediate cause for concern regarding toxicity, UNEP calls for precaution citing major
scientific uncertainties about the long-term environmental impacts of DU. The
recommendations of the report have been guided by the precautionary approach with the
objective of protecting the environment and human health. Their specific recommendations
- Appropriate authorities should undertake the
marking of all DU-affected sites where and when appropriate, until the site is cleared.
- At all sites, penetrators and
jackets on the surface should be collected and disposed of safely, as determined
by responsible authorities.
- Contamination points should be decontaminated
where feasible and justified, particularly where they are close to inhabited areas.
Contaminated material should be disposed of safely. In some cases contaminated points
could be covered over by concrete or other durable material.
- Within and adjacent to areas where DU has
been used, groundwater used for drinking should be checked by appropriate authorities for
possible DU contamination. The type and frequency of checks would depend on local
- When analyzing DU penetrators and samples,
transuranic elements should also be taken into account.
- Information should be provided to the local
population on the precautions to be taken on finding material containing DU.
- Further scientific work should be carried out
to reduce the scientific uncertainties related to the assessment of the environmental
impacts of DU.
- Scientific follow-up should be undertaken in
Bosnia-Herzegovina where DU munitions have persisted in the environment for over five
years, perhaps as part of an overall environmental assessment for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In addition, the report contained specific
recommendations for each of the 11 sites visited and recommends that these recommendations
be implemented as soon as the security situation allows.
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