• September 14, 2023

The delivery of depleted uranium (DU) munitions to Ukraine has once again highlighted the toxicity concerns of the weapons and their use.

Closer to home about thirty years ago this was also a concern as the main weapons training area where live firing of the munitions took place was at Dundrennan just across from the Point of Ayre in South West Scotland.

DU munitions were phased out and replaced in the case of the British Army with Tungsten alloy rounds. However the controversy did not go away and there has been a concern that the pollution from the testing will be long term.

There is of course (it’s fair to say) a lot of misinformation about the use of DU but what we can be certain of is that some veterans who were actually exposed to it assert it caused health problems and both the US and UK while maintaining stocks (some of which are now supplied to Ukraine) have stopped the routine use of it.

Additionally when DU weapons were being tested in SW Scotland thirty years ago the MOD admitted they were attempting to improve the weapons to ‘reduce even further the release of contamination into the atmosphere’ as this video says:

A major research paper (Author Alexander Boyd) has now been compiled on the issue. I can only publish the abstract here and to get the full content if you’re interested will cost $10 (access ONLINE for 48 hours) there are other options.


“Located in the South West of Scotland, the Kirkcudbright Training Area, alongside the extensive Dundrennan weapons ranges, have been used since the Second World War for the training of the British Army. From the Cold War to today, Dundrennan has been the testing ground for the majority of British armoured vehicles, and the controversial firing of depleted uranium shells which took place from 1982 to 2013. This paper examines the response to the firings from protestors, campaigners and environmental campaign groups, and outlines why Scottish nationalists found common ground with them in opposing the actions of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The response by the MOD, and in particular the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), to accusations of environmental mismanagement of the site are also discussed here. This counter narrative, which stresses the role of military conservation practices (known as ‘khaki conservation’) disseminated through the DIO publication Sanctuary is also scrutinized, noting the tensions between the requirements of the military and its environmental impact.”


The map shows weapons testing ranges in the Irish Sea in SW Scotland, Wales and Cumbria. The use of DU is only acknowledged at Dundrennan (SW Scotland) although the air weapons ranges at West Freugh and the NOW CLOSED Jurby sea-bombing range were utilised by USAF A-!0s whose armament included DU, additionally Naval test firing of DU was reported in the North Irish sea.


Weapons testing at the Irish sea ranges, still active, has been stepped up in the past four years due to the heightened tension between NATO and Russia. Missile testing at Aberporth is now switched mainly to the Hebrides ranges and the Aberporth area has seen heightened drone use. Jurby (IOM) is now closed but recently the MOD had to scale back testing at Lydd in the English SE so you can be sure if the current Defence programme ramps up sites in the Celtic areas will be once again under scrutiny.

Image: Shell is a smaller 30mm DU munition as carried by USAF A-!0s – Inset: Map of ranges original source Admiralty PEXA chart

Bernard Moffatt

For: Celtic League Military Monitoring (14th September 2023)

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