The Illinois Senate has a bill pending that would mandate testing Illinois National Guard soldiers for uranium poisoning, but critics say it’s a needless measure.
The bill’s sponsor in the Illinois House, state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Port Byron, wants to require uranium testing for Illinois National Guard members. He said a constituent succumbed to radiation poisoning after being exposed to the depleted uranium common in armored plating and, during the Gulf War, some munitions.
“The reason why this bill came about is due to a soldier that lives near my area that was exposed and passed away this past summer,” Smiddy said.
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State Rep. David Harris, R-Mount Prospect, served as the commanding general of the Illinois National Guard. He said the bill has emotional appeal, but would only give the National Guard a $4 million unfunded mandate.
“To put this requirement on the National Guard is extremely onerous,” Harris said. “You are not helping a soldier or an airman by voting for this bill.”
Harris said the requirement would repeat a test already done at a federal level. Depleted uranium is also used in commercial settings in things such as radiation shielding and aircraft parts.
In spite of opposition, the bill passed the Illinois House and now awaits consideration in the state Senate.