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Concern over cleaning Canadian tanks.


Patrick Dewhurst

THE GREEN Party has called on the government to investigate the risk of allowing Canadian forces to clean their potentially radioactive vehicles in Cyprus.

According to the Green party's George Perdikis, the Cyprus Government allows homebound Canadian forces from Afghanistan to clean their tanks and military vehicles on the island.

Perdikis believes the military vehicles could contain traces of depleted uranium or potentially hazardous microorganisms, which could contaminate Cyprus' ecosystem and so last week his party requested an environmental impact assessment to be carried out.

He said: "The issue was first raised by the Canadian government. They were concerned that vehicles returning home might be contaminated -- they are worried and so instead the tanks and lorries are being cleaned here."

According to Perdikis, the government entered into an agreement to allow Canadian vehicles to stop over in Cyprus.

He said that the government had set several requirements on the Canadian authorities for the vehicles' cleaning, but he did not consider these to be adequate in case there are traces of harmful radioactive material on the vehicles, and as of yesterday, they had not responded to his request for a full impact assessment.

The environmental services department said yesterday that the matter has been passed into the hands of the foreign ministry, who declined to comment.

Depleted uranium is used to make armour plating and munitions for several armies around the world.

And while some Canadian military vehicles are capable of firing these munitions, it is not known whether the vehicles did so in Afghanistan.

Nor is it known what amount of depleted uranium could pose a threat to the local population or the environment.

According to a committee of 50 nations assembled to analyse the effects of depleted uranium weaponry on the health of troops after the Balkans war, exposure to depleted uranium.

Nevertheless a consortium of 120 non-governmental organisations have called for a moratorium on the use of depleted uranium weapons.

One vehicle that is used by the Canadian forces, and which is mounted with a machine gun capable of firing ammunition containing depleted uranium, is the LAV III armoured vehicle.

The Canadian army's Leopard 2 tank is also capable of firing ammunition containing depleted uranium, developed by the US army.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Jun 2, 2011
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