PRESS RELEASE: Depleted Uranium Awareness Committee May 12, 2005
On May 12th, Peter Kovacs, the Managing News Editor of the "New Orleans Times-Picayune" (http://www.nola.com/contactus), the region's major daily newspaper, in a telephone conversation with veterans advocate Bob Smith, and a Times-Picayune political analyst stated that a story concerning a bill giving the right for service women and men from Louisiana to a best practices
health-screening test for exposure to depleted uranium would not be published.
The reason Kovacs gave was because the bill was not costing the state any money. Kovacs went on to say that the Times Picayune criteria for newsworthiness was how much it would cost. The fact that the bill supports the troops’ health concerns is not the criteria.
Four other media outlets in the region have already covered the story expressing concerns for the troops. On Tuesday, May 3rd, The Louisiana State House of Representatives passed a bill to give the right to all Louisiana Servicemen and women returning from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom for testing for depleted uranium contamination.
Louisiana is the first state in the nation to have their House pass this type of bill. The vote was 101 to 0 in favor.
The Louisiana Brigade, with approximately 4,500 National Guardsmen, is expected to return home from Iraq between October and December 2005. DU is radioactive and can cause leukemia, DNA breakdown, various other cancers, and birth defects in offspring of soldiers who have come into contact with it.
The VA and the DOD have been conducting testing that is not sensitive enough to detect whether a soldier has been contaminated. This bill would have helped alleviate that by pressuring the State’s Adjutant General to insure that the test mandated by DOD orders and Army regulations
would be executed.
The "money" criteria used by the New Orleans Times-Picayune is shocking in light of the fact that the country is at war and legislation supporting the troops health concerns is of utmost importance.
Bob Smith, Chair Depleted Uranium Awareness Committee, Louisiana Activist Network
P.O. Box 480
Franklinton, Louisiana 70438