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by John Helmer, Moscow 

Long before the British intelligence agency MI6  invented the story that Russian military agents had carried the nerve agent weapon Novichok into England, fired it at two Russians, and left it in a dustbin for a local scavenger to find, take home and kill his girlfriend, there was depleted uranium poisoning.

This is a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

In the past thirty years it has been used by the US, British, and Israeli armies in their wars against Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine (Gaza), Serbia, and recently against the Russians on the Ukrainian battlefield. As a US invention, however, depleted uranium dispersal as a gas to contaminate terrain for enemy soldiers has been acknowledged in secret since 1943.   

In the official military manuals, depleted uranium rounds are used because their metal concentration and intense heat burn their way through armour plate. In practice, they vaporise high concentrations of radioactive particles to cover large swathes of territory, civilian and military.

The US Department of Homeland Security defines a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) as “a nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, or other device that is intended to harm a large number of people.” DU harms a relatively small number of soldiers on a battlefield operating in tanks, other armoured vehicles, self-propelled artillery and reinforced  bunkers. DU  strikes a much larger number of people through the release of radiation downwind of the battlefield by penetrating their bodies, attacking their genetic codes, and triggering cancers, birth defects, miscarriages of the unborn, and premature death of adults.  

According to Homeland Security, it “works every day to prevent terrorists and other threat actors from using these weapons to harm Americans.” But when the US supplies its DU weapons to the Israeli and Ukrainian armies, it intends to cause this mass destruction by not caring for the harm they do — in fact concealing this harm, and publicly pretending DU ordnance is not what it is.

DU is a WMD by stealth. The US knows this because US and British soldiers who participated in the first battlefield use of DU shells and bombs, the war against Iraq in 1991, have been the long-term victims of their own weapons.

When the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) fire their DU shells and bombs into the buildings of Gaza, they are not aiming at Hamas tanks, armoured personnel carriers, or howitzer units – the Palestinian forces have none of those. Instead, the Israelis are aiming at the mass destruction of the Palestinian people, including those still unborn. The supply chain for this WMD includes the Cypriot, Greek, German and British governments.

In Gaza, and in the Ukraine, they are all witting participants in targeting a race of people for extermination, now and for the future.

According to US Government publications, the use of depleted uranium (DU) as a super-burning, heavy-metal weapon began in the US in the 1970s.  

“Naturally occurring uranium ore is abundant in nature and contains several forms of uranium called isotopes. All uranium isotopes are radioactive; however, only one of these isotopes, Uranium-235 (U-235), provides the fuel used to produce both nuclear power and the powerful explosions used in nuclear weapons… In nature, U-235 only makes up a very small part of the uranium ore. Given its importance for nuclear power and nuclear weapons technology, U-235 is often removed from the natural uranium ore and concentrated through a process called uranium enrichment. Depleted uranium hexafluoride, also known as DU, is the material left behind after enrichment. Like the natural uranium ore, DU is radioactive. DU mainly emits alpha particle radiation.”  

Source: https://www.epa.gov/

“In the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) began making ammunition and weapons out of DU given its high density. DU was also used to create armour for tanks and as weights to balance aircrafts. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was operating facilities that produced DU as a waste byproduct, making DU plentiful and inexpensive. DU is still used to make ammunition and weapons. DU contamination of spent shells and shell fragments is a hazard at some military firing ranges.

Source: https://www.nextias.com/

The US Environmental Protection Agency warns that “exposure to the outside of the body is not considered a serious hazard. However, if DU is ingested or inhaled, it is a serious health hazard for two reasons. DU is toxic and can damage kidneys due to its chemical makeup. This is the most hazardous aspect of DU. However, if alpha particles from DU are inhaled or ingested, alpha particle radiation can also cause damage inside the body. It is important to remember, though, that DU is not often found in the air, except at industrial facilities where it is processed.”

The Pentagon has produced a booklet for its troops which says “The Department of Defense (DoD) began testing depleted uranium (DU) about 40 years ago, and first used it in a military operation in 1991 [First Gulf War against Iraq  ]. It has fewer risks than natural uranium because it is less radioactive. DoD and many other organizations have studied, and continue to study, the health, chemical, radiological and environmental effects and exposures of DU.”   After admitting that  depleted uranium was used in artillery shells and bombs for the first time in the Gulf War of 1991 against Iraq, the current Pentagon line is that  “the Department of Defense has comprehensively studied the environmental fate of depleted uranium both before and after the Gulf War. Burn tests and other evaluations performed under simulated battlefield conditions indicated that the health risks associated with the battlefield use of depleted uranium were minimal and could be reduced even more by simple, field-expedient measures, especially avoidance of depleted uranium-contaminated vehicles and sites.”

Notwithstanding, the Pentagon admits “the main areas that were not adequately addressed before the Gulf War were the medical implications of embedded depleted uranium (DU) fragments in people and inhalation exposure estimates for friendly fire incidents, recovery activities, and incidental contact scenarios. These are recognized weaknesses that are being addressed.”  The military research reveals that hazardous exposure to uranium particles occurs in smoke from target explosions or fires from battlefield or accidental detonations of weapons stocks.   

The arsenal explosion at Camp Doha, Kuwait, on July 11, 1991, involved the detonation of 155-mm artillery shells with DU warheads. A defective heater in an ammunition carrier started a fire, then an explosion “scattering artillery submunitions (bomblets) over nearby combat-loaded vehicles and ammunition stocks. This set off an hours-long series of explosions and fires that devastated the vehicles and equipment in the North Compound and scattered unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and debris over much of the remainder of the camp.The fires produced billowing black and white clouds of smoke that rose hundreds of feet into the air and drifted to the east-southeast, across portions of both the North and South Compounds, in the direction of Kuwait City.”  

US soldiers running away from the depleted-uranium explosions at Camp Doha, Kuwait, July 11, 1991.  “From viewing contemporary logs and other data, it is clear that the 22nd Support Command (SUPCOM), which supported theater combat units, was aware of the potential for DU contamination. Entries from the SUPCOM log provide evidence of this awareness”. The Washington Post report of the blast did not mention the radiation release and the long-term hazard for the US and British soldiers exposed, or the Arabs living downwind of the blast in Kuwait.  

The Pentagon acknowledges the long-term radiation hazards of DU exposure.   “In 1998, the program was expanded to include Gulf War veterans who may have been exposed to DU through close contact with DU munitions, inhalation of smoke containing DU particulate during a fire at the Doha depot,  or while entering or salvaging vehicles that were hit with DU projectiles. The published results of these medical evaluations indicate that the presence of embedded DU fragments is the only scenario predictive of a high urine uranium value, and those with embedded DU fragments continue to have elevated urine uranium levels ten years after the incident.”

A decade of biochemical poisoning was not revealed in the Washington Post report of the detonation of the Camp Doha arsenal.   Equally unrevealing – make that covering up — is the European Commission report on DU, dated 2010, which concluded that “environmental and human health risks due to a potential widespread distribution of DU are not expected. Exposure to DU is very limited compared to background exposures. In combat zones, vehicles hit by DU should be made inaccessible to the general public and be properly disposed of. Used DU ammunition should also be collected and disposed of.”   Neither the European Commission nor NATO has acknowledged the use of DU weapons against Serbian forces in Serbia and Kosovo during the NATO war of 1999.

Source:  https://www.declassifieduk.org/

US nuclear bomb designers describe the DU artillery shell or bomb as a “dirty radiation weapon” because of its uncontrollable dispersal on wind, rain, and through the soil targeting civilian populations far from the battlefield targets; indeed, the very civilian populations supporting and paying for the use of DU munitions against their purported enemies.  “Some of the uranium used with DU weapons vaporises into extremely small particles, which are dispersed into the atmosphere where they remain until they fall to the ground with the rain. As a gas, the chemically toxic and radioactive uranium can easily enter the body through the skin or the lungs and be carried around the world until it falls to earth with the rain. AFP asked Marion Falk, a retired chemical physicist who built nuclear bombs for more than 20 years at Lawrence Livermore lab, if he thought that DU weapons operate in a similar manner as a dirty bomb. ‘That’s exactly what they are,’ Falk said. ‘They fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way.’”

“According to Falk, more than 30 percent of the DU fired from the cannons of U.S. tanks is reduced to particles one-tenth of a micron (one millionth of a meter) in size or smaller on impact. ‘The larger the bang the greater the amount of DU that is dispersed into the atmosphere,’ Falk said. With the larger missiles and bombs, nearly 100 percent of the DU is reduced to radioactive dust particles of the micron size or smaller, he said.”      

One of the leading nuclear physicists in Europe to have researched the long-range dispersal of DU biochemical damage is Christopher Busby. Here is his report, published in 2011, of the long-term poisoning of Iraqi civilians following the US and British use of DU ammunition during the fighting at Fallujah in 2004. The data on which Busby and his colleagues based their findings came from soil and water sampling, as well as from spectrometric analysis of the hair of civilian children, fathers and mothers in Iraq. The abnormally high concentrations of uranium were traced to the use by US and UK forces of artillery shells, ground-fired missiles, and air-fired rockets, missiles and bombs. According to Busby, “US forces also used Fallujah to combat-test prototypes of at least two new types of thermobaric weapons – Thermobaric Hellfire missiles – AGM-114N [54]- and a new thermobaric RPG called SMAW-NE (Shoulder-fired, Multi-purpose Assault Weapon – Novel Explosive).”  

Testing new radiation weapons in civilian areas of Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan has been standard practice for the US, the British, and the Israelis over more than thirty years.  

The conclusion of Busby’s Fallujah study of September 2011 was that “we found significant levels of Uranium, a material which has been associated with weapons employed in Iraq and in the Balkans since 1991 and also with genotoxicity. These levels were significantly higher than those expected on the basis of published control group data from various studies and particularly from Southern Israel. Further, the pattern of contamination with regard to hair length indicated a major contamination event in the past. The levels of Uranium could not be explained by any local Uranium deposits in the soil since measurements made of soil Uranium showed only modest concentrations though the Uranium was slightly enriched…Since none of the other elements found in excess in the parents were genotoxic except Uranium we conclude that these results support the belief that the effects in Fallujah follow the deployment of a Uranium-based weapon or weapons of some unknown type.”  

Other research studies by Busby and others have produced the evidence of Israeli use of DU air-dropped bombs and artillery fired shells against Arab targets in Gaza and Lebanon since 2006.     Independent research has been undertaken by Arab experts of late miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects for pregnant Palestinian women at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. “These data suggests a causative/favouring role of acute exposure of parents to the weapons-associated contaminants, and/or of their chronic exposure from their persistence in the environment on the embryonic development of their children.”   

Click to enlarge in the full report at source.

In a research paper published in December 2021, Arab scientists from Egypt and Gaza, with a Japanese colleague, and collaboration from a German institute in Munich, reported that uranium weapon contamination was found in sand, stone, concrete, demolition and other building materials in Gaza as well as in Egyptian Sinai. “The past and ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip has led to a severe shortage of building materials since 2007. Many houses, buildings and infrastructure were destroyed and produced huge amounts of demolition debris after the war in the Gaza Strip in 2008. As a result, re-use of the degraded building materials has been required in the past and present. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the amount of demolition debris in the Gaza Strip, produced from 2008 through 2009, was estimated to be 600,000 tonnes. The demolition debris was crushed, sieved and re-used as recycled building materials.”  

In other words, the Israeli-American DU attacks on Gaza make the recycling of the current destruction hazardous for rebuilding. The findings indicate that long before the present war began last month,  it has been Israeli state policy, backed and supplied by the US, to make Gaza uninhabitable for the future. This is genocide, using genotoxic weapons. For the first attempt at documenting the wind dispersal of DU radioactive particles fired by the IDF since October 7 to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel itself, click on this.    

In time Busby and Arab scientists will report the evidence of DU health damage among the Gazans who survive direct destruction by Israeli attack.

On November 25, Busby has reported new research documenting the biochemical poisoning of Poland, Germany, Denmark,  and England which has resulted from the detonation of the DU arsenal at Khmelnitsky on May 13, 2023. Read this first report.  

Source: https://johnhelmer.net/

Busby has now updated the earlier findings in a research paper issued on November 25. Because the standard European and US academic publishers are so far refusing to report the evidence, Busby’s report is published here in full.    

The Khmelnitsky Ukraine Uranium explosion revisited.
The calculated source term is approximately 50 tons.
Public health implications for Poland and Western Ukraine.
By Christopher Busby, PhD


The explosion which occurred at Khmelnitsky, Ukraine on May 13th involved significant quantities of Uranium contamination of the air. This was unequivocally shown by the arrival of measured excess amounts of Uranium particles in High Volume Air Samplers deployed by the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston, near London, in May and June 2023. This is something that is therefore known. What is not known, is the source term, how much Uranium was dispersed in the explosion, and secondly where did go before arriving in England? Also, the question of its health effects on populations living in the plume area is one that is addressed here. Using radiation measurement increase of 32nSv/h recorded on gamma detectors at the Poland Ukraine border it is possible to back calculate the source term by using tables published by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the gamma emission at 63keV and 92keV of the Uranium-238 daughter Thorium 234 and 1000keV of the daughter Protoactinium 234m. This gives the activity of U-238 in the cloud as it passed the detector. The source term is obtainable from the Gaussian Plume equations and air models of the UK National Radiological Protection Board.  The result gives a source term of around 50 metric tons of Uranium-238. The activity levels in the plume per unit area are similar to those that caused genetic effects in Iraq following the Gulf War, and similar health consequences are therefore predictable. These were measured in Iraq by many researchers and included infant mortality, birth defects and cancer risk increase. Other possible scenarios are discussed.


The explosion at the 649th Aviation Depot, Grushevitsa, Khmelnitsky, occurred at 4.54am local time on Tuesday May 23rd if we employ the seismometer spike of 3.4 on the Richter Earthquake scale detected to the North West of the site (Fig 1). It led to a huge black mushroom cloud (Fig 2) and the crater was reported as being 800m across (Fig 3) [1]. The explosion was widely believed to involve the burning of Depleted Uranium weapons donated by the UK and USA which were stored at the site. The existence of a radiological event was supported by the sudden increase in gamma radiation levels shown by detectors situated on the border between Poland and western Ukraine in the path of the plume.  However, the Uranium suggestion was attacked on the web by so-called fact-checkers, fake news websites and other commentators. A Freedom of Information request by this author to the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston, Berkshire, some 50 miles West of London, revealed a clear and statistically significant increase in Uranium in the High-Volume Air Samplers (HVAS) deployed around the AWE site and further afield in the 4 weeks following the explosion.  Thus, it is clear that the explosion was indeed one that produced a cloud of Uranium dust, some of which eventually came to the UK. This raises a number of questions which are addressed here.

  1. What was the track of the plume from the explosion?
  2. What was the concentration (or activity) of the Uranium in the plume?
  3. What was the Source Term, that is, how much Uranium exploded and burned?
  4. What likely weapons or radioactive materials were stored at Khmelnitsky?
  5. What are the likely health effects in West Ukraine and Poland in those exposed?

Approach to the problem

The methods used to examine the questions are listed in Table 1

Table 1. Examining the issues

Uranium-238, the main component of Depleted Uranium used for weapons, is an alpha emitter and is commonly stated to be harmless and undetectable with Geiger Counters, because alpha particles have a short range in air and are stopped by the windows of most Geiger Counters. This is why many commentators who referred to the increases in gamma radiation seen in the detectors in Poland refused to believe that Uranium was involved. However, U-238 decays to produce daughter radionuclides in the following scheme shown in Table 2. It is clear from Table 2 that the two gamma emitting daughters, Th-234 and Pa-234m have short half-lives and quickly attain secular equilibrium with the parent, so that for every U-238 decay, there are decays from Th-234 and Pa-234m. The fractional gamma decays are low, but are detectable if there is significant Uranium in the samples. This method is routinely employed to measure U-238 in the environment with gamma spectrometry e.g. [5].

Table 2 Uranium-238 decay scheme. (E+9 is x109).

Fig 1. Photograph of the initial explosion

Fig 2 The development of the black mushroom cloud

Fig 3 The crater left behind (from [1])

Here is the archived synoptic pressure chart for the 13th . This can be used to plot the direction of the winds and the route the particles from the explosion took on their way to England.

Wettercentrale synoptic chart for 13th May 2023.

A weak high-pressure centre to the northwest of Khmelnitsky centered in the Baltics caused a southeasterly airflow through Ukraine, which took the plume to Poland. Here, detectors picked up the gamma radiation. It likely then turned westerly or southwesterly under the influence of another high-pressure centre centred in Scotland.  (Winds flow clockwise around a High). The main concentrations will thus have been in Poland, Germany, Southern Sweden and Denmark before it arrived in the Netherlands and Southern England.

Gamma radiation is routinely measured across Europe with a network of specially calibrated detectors so that if there is some new danger from radiation, like the Chernobyl accident, the alarm will quickly be raised.  The results are placed on the web [6] where the dose rate is given in nSv/h. Background in Europe, away from nuclear sites varies between about 60 and 100nSv/h depending on the nature of the soil near the detector.

On 15th May 2023, detectors to the north west of Ukraine over the border with Poland suddenly showed an increase in dose rate. Later, other detectors in Poland recorded spikes. Results for the closest detectors, located in Poland, PL5011 Radzyn Poladski are shown in Fig 4 (upper trace) and Horodyszcze PL5003 (lower trace). These detectors, about 400km from the event, can be shown to be in the path of the plume by employing archived weather patterns and plume modelling using the HYSPLIT computer program of the US NOAA organisation, which can be accessed online [2].

Results of a plume model for the explosion, giving the track of the plume are shown in Fig 5.

Fig 4. Gamma detector on Polish border Radzyn Podlaski PL5011 (406km, upper trace) and Horodyszcze PL5003 (370km, lower trace), the nearest detectors to the computed track and were approximately on the path of the plume. Note the arrival at these detectors mid-day on 15th May. The increases in gamma radiation at these nearest detectors to Khmelnitsky can be seen to be 35nSv/h (PL5011) and 32nSv/h (PL5003) above background. At the more distant detectors the increase was less, decreasing as the distance increased [6].

Fig 5. The track of the Khmelnitsky plume as modelled by the NOAA HYSPLIT computer program. The origin was entered as 49.423303N, 26.987256E. The plume is released at 100m at 0400 UST on 13th May 2023 and the plume track covers 72hours (3 days) [2]. The blue track follows a release 4h later than the red track.

Fig 6. NOAA Frequency result for total dispersion region of the plume in 7 days [2].

Calculating the source term

1. The activity of the cloud

There are scientific methods available for translating a gamma ray dose rate at a detector into an activity in air if the radionuclide responsible for the increased dose rate is known, and if it is a gamma emitter which would cause a signal at a gamma detector. Uranium itself is not a gamma emitter (Table 1) but it has daughters, Thorium-234 and Protoactinium-234m which contribute to the gamma ray fluence (~ dose rate). Both the UK and the USA created tables and graphs of the results of calculations showing the gamma field from a cloud source containing unit Becquerel of radionuclides with different gamma energies. From the AWE measurements the explosion was one of Uranium. Th-234 and Pa-234m energies may be employed to back calculate the activity in the cloud that passed the detectors in Poland. Table 3 shows the relevant details. The gamma ray air dose at the detector for unit disintegration (1Bq) per cubic metre weighted for the fraction of the decay that is gamma and the energy of the decay gives the proportion of the dose at the detector due to the nuclide and its gamma photon. This is summed to give the weighted total dose, and the result gives the number of Bq per cubic metre of the cloud.

Table 3. Th-234 and Pa-234m main gamma rays and FGR-12 Part 2 (Table II.4) conversion factors [3].

What is required is the amount (activity in Becquerels) of Uranium in the cloud as it passed the Poland detectors. From Table 3, one Becquerel per cubic metre will increase the gamma signal at the detector by 5.65 E-3 nGy. But the two detectors in the track increased by about 30nGy. The activity of the cloud at the position of the detectors is thus obtained by division. See Table 4

Table 4 Activity of Uranium-238 in the plume at the Polish Detectors in the path of the plume (Bq/m3)

The result is that some 400km from the source at Khmelnitsky, there was almost 6000Bq per cubic metre in the plume. What is this in terms of Uranium mass? This depends on whether the U-238 is in equilibrium with U-234. If it is Depleted Uranium, the specific activity is 12.4MBq/kg. Therefore, the cloud at the Polish detectors has 5.929/12.4 g per cubic metre, that is 478mg/cubic metre. If the Uranium is not depleted, is natural, the value is 239mg/cu metre. These are significantly high values of dust in a cloud. The visibility in dust clouds has been measured [7]. For a dust load of 300mg/m3 the visibility is reduced to about 200m.  Individuals living in the path of the plume will have noticed its passage.

2. Modelling the plume to the source.

It remains to back-calculate the source term. How much Uranium was in the explosion at Khmelnitsky? This can be done using Gaussian Plume modelling. The method used here is based on the UK National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) model. [4] which has been shown to be fairly accurate. However, the distances involved in the calculation are at the extreme range of the NRPB model results so there must be a caution associated with the results. The assumption is that the weather at the time was stable between the source and the Polish detectors, dominated by an anticyclone to the north causing the weak south easterly wind that carried the plume across NW Ukraine and Poland (Fig 5). Thus, results for Pasquall stability Category A were employed. A value of between 10-8 and 8 x 109 at 400km can be inferred from Fig 13 of NRPB 1979. This value represents on-axis level time integrated concentrations as a function of effective release height 10-200m for a short (30min) release of Unit activity in Category A conditions. The value for Pasquall Category B conditions is roughly the same. That is to say, the quantity (Bq) for the minimum Source Term is the value at the Polish detectors divided by 10-8. This is 5929 x 1x 108 Bq or 5929 x 108 or 5.929 x 1011. Since U-238 has a specific activity of 12.4MBq/kg this represents a source terms of 5.929 x 1011/ 12.4 x 106 kg. This is 47,814Kg of 47.8 tonnes of DU for the Source term. This is not surprising. The Uranium at the Polish detectors, some 400km from Khmelnitsky, showed a significant increase in gamma radiation as the cloud passed. Uranium is very weakly gamma active. So, there must have been a significant amount. This was 400km away from the source of the plume. It should be noted that using the value of 8 x 10-9 which is the extreme extrapolation of the NRPB graph the Uranium Source term becomes 74 tonnes.

Health effects

The health effects of Uranium weapons contamination are an area of dispute in science. The situation has been reviewed [8,9] and the evidence will not be rehearsed further here. Briefly, Uranium particles when ingested or inhaled cause genetic damage at the cell somatic and cell heritable levels. The effects come about as a result of:

  • local alpha particle damage to cells. The cell dose from an alpha particle track is in excess of 400mSv as modelled using the current ICRP model.
  • Photoelectron amplification of natural background gamma radiation by Uranium due to the high atomic number of Uranium and the absorption of gamma and X-rays through this.
  • Uranium has a very high affinity for DNA and so internal exposure to Uranium represents a targeted effect as DNA is the target for radiation genetic effects.

Whatever the biological mechanism, there is significant published evidence in the peer review literature to show that Uranium exposures cause massive genetic damage. This results in cancer, leukemia, fertility loss and birth defects, not predicted by the current radiation risk model. Evidence includes the three epidemiological studies of Fallujah Iraq [10,11,12].  The radiation protection authorities cited by governments and the military users of Uranium weapons deny that the battlefield Uranium residues have any measurable health effects. However, a coroner court jury in the UK in 2009 heard all the evidence from both sides and concluded that exposure to DU dust was the cause of the cancer in the case of a UK soldier Stuart Dyson who died from colon cancer and was exposed in Iraq to DU [13]. In the case of the Khmelnitsky plume, the general concentration of Uranium particles in the plume could be modelled (above) to give exposures (on the basis of quantity of Uranium per unit area of country) that, in Poland and western Ukraine were about 25% of the exposures in Iraq. If the calculations presented here and correct, based on the assumptions that only Uranium was involved in the increased gamma signals in Poland, there would be expected to be qualitatively similar health effects predicted for the regions in the path of the plume.


The Narrative

The Khmelnitsky explosion was a very significant one, detected by seismic instruments located to the north-west of the epicentre and creating a 700m crater.  It produced a large black cloud. It should be noted that uranium explosions do produce a black cloud of nanoparticles and sub-micron particles of Uranium Oxide. The storage buildings were destroyed and it was reported that the fires and general clean-up of the site was carried out by robot machines. The Russian news sites reported that the explosion was one of stored Depleted Uranium weapons donated by the UK, but many other websites and self-identified experts argued that there was no radioactivity in the cloud. However, EU gamma detectors in the path of the cloud which was travelling northwest across Western Ukraine and Poland showed significant spikes in radiation after the event at approximately the right time.

In Poland there was a report that the spike gave a gamma signal for the nuclide Bismuth-214, which us a common Radon daughter, present in the soil everywhere. The most valuable identification of the fallout of the event was a statistically significant increase in Uranium particles reported in the routine data from the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston and 9 other local high-volume air samplers located withing some 30km of the weapons site [14]. The levels of Uranium in the 3 offsite monitors are shown in Fig 7 below.

The on-site filters also gave the same spike (not shown here).

Fig 7 Uranium particle air concentration in HVAS near the AWE Aldermaston UK [14].

The AWE Aldermaston have measured and reported levels of Uranium in air on and offsite at 12 positions since 1992 as a consequence of a public enquiry into a child leukemia cluster near the site identified in the late 80s. The results for 3 offsite positions showed an excess in the period 15th May to 15th June. This identifies one of the components of the Khmelnitsky explosion as Uranium. However, there are questions remaining about the interpretation provided here, which assumes that the Russian narrative of a Depleted Uranium store explosion is the correct one.

Issues and possible alternative explanations

There are some questions that must be asked and associated caveats provided over the results obtained by the calculations. Like Donald Rumsfeld it is necessary to provide a list of what is known and what is unknown, or even speculate on unknown unknowns. A list of these is provided in Table 5 below.

Table 5. Rumsfeld matrix issues for Khmelnitsky explosion.

 The interpretation provided here is based on the assumption that the plume consisted of Uranium-238. If the plume consisted of normal Uranium, that is U-238 and U-234 in stochastic equilibrium then the total Uranium content of the explosion source term must be halved, that is 50 tons of Uranium. Since the ant-tank shells are known  to contain about 5kg of DU, this gives 10,000 shells. This seems like a very large number of shells but there is no information on this. On the other hand, it is possible that there are a range of other Uranium weapons. Since here we are in the realm of speculation, the issue will not be further explored.

Conclusion and recommendation

The Khmelnitsky explosion in Ukraine on May13th caused the contamination of very significant areas of Poland, West Ukraine, Belarus, and to a lesser extent the whole of Northern Europe. From the discovery of a Uranium spike recorded in filters located in the south of England it is known that the plume contained Uranium. The track of the plume could be determined from the NOAA computer model and showed the plume moving north west from the origin across west Ukraine, Poland and south eastern Belarus. Uranium from the plume clearly contaminated other countries in Europe and were detected in the UK also. Gamma detectors in the computed path of the plume showed spikes due to the gamma emissions from the daughter nuclides Th-234 and Pa-234m. Applying Occam’s Razor to the event, assuming that the explosion was one of Depleted Uranium, the increased gamma signals were employed together with a Gaussian Plume model to show that the source term was between 50 and 70 tonnes of Depleted Uranium depending on assumptions. Based on previous epidemiological studies of Uranium aerosol exposures in Iraq and the Balkans it can be stated that there will be significant genetic effects including cancer, leukemia and birth defects in European exposed populations, and particularly in Northwestern Ukraine, Poland and South West Belarus. Caution should be exercised in accepting the quantitative results of these calculations since there are a number of unknowns.

It is recommended that government authorities investigate the issue by measuring dust residues in areas in the path of the plume using relevant methods for gamma spectroscopy and alpha spectrometry of mass spectrometry. The military must provide details of the radionuclide content and production of all weapons it has developed and employed. Residues in Ukraine should be examined using gamma spectrometry for the presence of neutron activation products, particularly Cobalt-60 in steel samples.


I must record my debt to Dr Deepti Bisht of Cambridge Geoconsultants for useful discussions and assistance with obtaining gamma data from the EU websites at the time of the explosion, and to Mr Dai Williams for advice on the existing Uranium-containing weapons systems.


1. 649th Aviation Depot, Grushevitsa, Khmelnitsky district.

2. NOAA’s HYSPLIT Atmospheric Transport and Dispersion Modeling System  by Stein et al. in the December 2015 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Citation: Stein, A. F., R. R. Draxler, G. D. Rolph, B. J. B. Stunder, M. D. Cohen, and F. Ngan. ” NOAA’s HYSPLIT Atmospheric Transport and Dispersion Modeling System”, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 96, 12 (2015): 2059-2077, accessed Oct 7, 2021.

3. Eckerman KF and Ryman JC (1993) USEPA. Federal Guidance Report No 12. External exposure to Radionuclides in air, water and soil.  Washington EPA-402-R-93-081

4. Clarke RH (1993) First Report of a working Group on Atmospheric Dispersion. A model for short and medium range dispersion of radionuclides released to the atmosphere. National Radiological Protection Board R-91. Harwell, Didcot, Oxford UK

5. Elkader M Abd , Shinonaga T, Sherif MM (2021) Radiological hazard assessments of radionuclides in building materials, soils and sands from the Gaza strip and the north of Sinai peninsula. Nature Scientific Reports 2021: 11: 23251.

6. European Joint Research Centre ReMon. Radioactivity Environmental Monitoring.

7. Chepil WS, Woodruff NP (1957) Sedimentary characteristics of dust storms II. Visibility and dust concentration. American Journal of Science 255 104-114

8. Busby Christopher (2015) Editorial: Uranium Epidemiology. Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine 1(2)- 009;

9. Busby Christopher (2017) Anomalous health effects of Uranium exposure. ISBN 978-620-2-30250-0 Germany:Omniscriptum Publishing.

10. ALAANI, S., AL-FALLOUJI, M., BUSBY, C*., HAMDAN, M.. Pilot study of congenital anomaly rates at birth in Fallujah, Iraq, 2010. Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America, North America, 44, Aug. 2012. Available at: <http://jima.imana.org/article/view/10463>.

11. Alaani Samira Tafash Muhammed, Busby Christopher*, Hamdan, Malak and Blaurock-Busch Eleonore  (2011) Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq Conflict Health  5, 1-15

12 Busby, Chris*; Hamdan, Malak; Ariabi, Entesar. (2010) Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 7, no. 7: 2828-2837.

13. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

14.  Busby C (2023) Atomic weapons establishment High Volume Air Samplers  Offsite and the Khmelnitsky Uranium explosion.  Green Audit Report 2023/10 Nov 10 (2023).

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