Agent Orange, veterans’ health threat long after Vietnam war


This video says about itself:

Chilling Legacy of US Chemical Warfare in Vietnam

Agent Orange: The US herbicidal compound known as Agent Orange has scarred Vietnam

July 2004

For downloads and more information visit here.

The use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War means that for many the war never ended. They’re still suffering the effects of chemical warfare.

“I try hard to improve our life but we cannot,” sobs Mr Quy. His stomach, liver and lungs are riddled with cancer and the hospital refuses to treat him. Now he’s too weak to care for his severely handicapped children. He believes it was his exposure to Agent Orange during the war which blighted his family. His only hope is that the law suit against the US companies who manufactured Agent Orange will succeed. But many are angry that it’s taking so long to receive compensation. As the Head of the Association for Victims of Agent Orange states: “The Vietnamese people have suffered but unfortunately, the Americans have avoided their responsibility.”

By Lynne Peeples in the USA:

Agent Orange Posed A Health Threat To Servicemen Long After Vietnam: Study

02/21/2014 5:59 pm EST

Military veterans who say they were sickened by lingering amounts of the herbicide Agent Orange aboard repurposed airplanes after the Vietnam War now have some strong scientific support for their claims.

A study published on Friday refutes the U.S. Air Force and Department of Veteran Affairs’ position that any dioxin or other components of Agent Orange contaminating its fleet of C-123 cargo planes would have been “dried residues” and therefore unlikely to pose any meaningful exposure risks.

That contention has been the basis for the VA’s denial of benefits to sick veterans.

“It’s a question of science and ethics,” said Jeanne Stellman, an Agent Orange expert at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and senior author of the paper, which found standard-exceeding exposures likely occurred after the war — via skin contact, inhalation and ingestion.

“The VA has set up policy that is based on bad science,” she added. “That’s resulted in really inequitable treatment.”

Veterans who sprayed or handled Agent Orange herbicide during the war, or who spent any time on the ground in Vietnam, are automatically eligible for health care and disability compensation under federal Agent Orange legislation. The government presumes that certain conditions such as prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes are a result of exposure to the chemical.

Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, told The Huffington Post that, in her opinion, the VA’s presumption should be expanded to include those who flew in the post-war planes.

“We can’t prove it, but everything in here is supportive of the fact that they were exposed and could have been quite highly exposed,” said Birnbaum. “In fact, it would be reasonable to assume that those who flew in these planes after the war were more likely to be exposed than those servicemen who had boots on the ground in Vietnam.”

Perhaps no one knows better than retired Lt. Col. John Harris the consequences of the VA’s apparently arbitrary distinction between possible pre- and post-war exposures.

When HuffPost first covered the concerns of Harris and other veterans last July, he described how the VA initially denied him Agent Orange-related benefits for his diabetes, despite his 12 years of working, eating and sleeping onboard what he refers to as “noxious” C-123s after the war. But when he later found records of a one-hour refueling stop he’d made with a fighter jet in Vietnam during the war, the VA granted his refiled claim.

While Harris is happy to have coverage, he remains frustrated for his comrades.

“I’m absolutely positive that I was exposed to Agent Orange and dioxin in that 12-year period,” he told HuffPost after hearing about the new study. “I think the VA is lying, cheating and stealing to prove a case that is unprovable.”

In a statement to the HuffPost last July, a VA spokeswoman stated that “even though residual Agent Orange may be detected in C-123 aircraft by laboratory techniques years after Agent Orange use, any residual [dioxin] in the aircraft would have solidified and be unable to enter the human body in any significant amount.”

VA spokeswoman Genevieve Billia told HuffPost in email on Friday that the agency “wants to ensure that all Veterans, including those who served on C123s, receive the benefits to which they are entitled under the law,” and that it will “continue to review new scientific information on this issue as it becomes available.”

“VA does not presume by regulation that these Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange,” said Billia.

To show that such exposures likely did happen, Stellman said, her research team had to be “very clever.”

After a decade of spraying more than 10 million gallons of Agent Orange to destroy enemy cover and crops, the C-123s underwent no testing — or decontamination, for that matter — prior to their new stateside assignments with the Air Force Reserve. Between 1971 and 1982, about 1,500 men and women served aboard 34 C-123s that were previously deployed in Operation Ranch Hand.

It wasn’t until 1979, when crews complained about chemical smells, that officials took the first measures of potential contamination. Samples of wiped surfaces in 1994, and again in 2009, supplemented this 1979 air sample data. All but three of the planes have since been smelted.

Stellman, Richard Clapp of the Boston University School of Public Health, Fred Berman of Oregon Health and Science University and Peter Lurker, an environmental engineering consultant and former U.S. Air Force researcher, used this sparse data in three different models. All resulted in estimated exposure levels that exceeded health guidelines for the contaminants.

The team noted that their findings may be extremely conservative.

The levels of toxic chemicals — measured years, even decades, after the veterans were aboard the C-123s — were likely much higher immediately after the war, researchers said. Airborne levels may also have been particularly high while the planes were airborne, due to extreme temperatures, changes in pressure and vibrations.

One of the models that researchers used, which Stellman suggested was based on a “high school chemistry” concept, demonstrated how the old herbicide could have evaporated and attached to dust particles.

“The VA, whether out of ignorance or malice, has denied the entire existence of this entire branch of science,” said Stellman. “They have this preposterous idea that somehow there is this other kind of state of matter — a dried residue that is completely inert.”

Clapp, one of the co-authors, emphasized how “exquisitely toxic” dioxin is at any dose. The chemical has been linked to a host of health effects including cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

“Exposure to even tiny quantities is not ignorable,” he said.

“We do show plausible exposure,” added Clapp. “These veterans should be compensated, too.”

Retired Maj. Wes Carter, who himself served aboard C-123s after Vietnam, has been leading the effort on behalf of this group of post-war veterans. He said he knows of only one such comrade who has received Agent Orange benefits from the VA, his close friend retired Lt. Col. Paul Bailey.

Bailey was among those struggling to secure benefits for himself and his family last July, when he was gravely ill with cancer. He died of the disease in October.

Bailey expressed his frustrations to HuffPost back in July.

“We’ve proved over and over that we’ve been exposed to dioxin, but the VA is refusing to accept the evidence,” said Bailey, who worked as an air medical technician and flight instructor aboard the C-123s. “They’re just dragging their feet.”

Weeks before Bailey’s death, the VA reversed its initial denial of his claim.

“The fact that Bailey got approved, that gives me hope,” said Harris, adding that his hope is further bolstered by the new scientific findings. “There are a lot of others out there that need this help, too.”

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Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam at last


This video says about itself:

US starts landmark Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam

The $41m project was inaugurated at a former US air base near the city of Danang.

For thousands of babies in Vietnam, however, the cleanup is decades too late.

Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane explains.

The United States finally began to clean up the defoliant Agent Orange today – 50 years after it was first sprayed by US planes on Vietnam‘s jungles: here. See also here.

US Agent Orange scandal in Japan


This video is called Decades On, Agent Orange Still Stalks Vietnam.

By Jon Mitchell, The Asia-Pacific Journal:

US Military Defoliants on Okinawa: Agent Orange

Thursday 15 September 2011

Introduction

On August 19th, 2011, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement in response to recent media coverage about the US military’s use and storage of defoliants (including Agent Orange) on Okinawa during the Vietnam War. MOFA announced that, although it had requested the US Department of Defense to investigate these allegations, Washington had replied that it was unable to find any evidence from the period in question. As a result, Tokyo asked the US government to re-check its records in more detail. This was the first time that the Japanese government had asked the US about military defoliants since 2007 – and its refusal to accept the Pentagon’s stock denial was rare. The current announcement arose after two weeks of unprecedented press reports which alleged that these chemicals had been widely used on Okinawa during the 1960s and ‘70s.

With fresh revelations coming to light on a regular basis, this is still a rapidly developing issue. However in this paper, I will attempt to unravel the situation as it currently stands. Starting with a brief overview of the role of Okinawa during the Vietnam War and the military’s use of defoliants during the conflict, I will then explore the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rulings of 1998 and 2009 that appeared to offer official recognition of the presence of these defoliants on the island. Following this, I will summarize US veterans’ accounts of their experiences handling these defoliants on Okinawa – including their transportation, storage, spraying and burial. In conclusion, I will assess the obstacles that these veterans and Okinawan residents face in winning an admission from the Pentagon – plus possible signs of hope that, while difficult, such an acknowledgement is achievable.

Children of Agent Orange: here.

“Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam”. Fred A. Wilcox, Seven Stories Press: “The old soldier wears a long-sleeved shirt and shorts. His feet are bare and when he talks he appears to be listening carefully to his own words. Once, he says, this area of Cu Chi was covered with mangrove forests and jungles. Then, the spray planes appeared, moving slowly and quite low over the trees, back and forth until everything shriveled up and died”: here.

It’s Time to Compensate the Victims: Looking Back at Vietnam and Agent Orange. H. Patricia Hynes, Truthout: “In ‘Waiting for an Army to Die,’ Fred A. Wilcox … recounts the stories of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and also of Oregon mothers, Arizona potters, and others living near sprayed public lands, all of whom were suffering from a plague of cancers, nervous system effects, miscarriages and birth disorders of their children…. Wilcox takes us inside the tragic, yet gutsy lives of young, working-class vets who were left to die by ‘government stonewalling, bureaucratic shell games and the contempt of multinational corporations'”: here.

A mere 34% of 1940-1960s US Vietnam war records have been released: here.

Britain: Shocked MPs are organising a Westminster fundraising event for young Vietnamese victims of US defoliant Agent Orange after witnessing tragic suffering in a Ho Chi Minh City hospital: here.

Japan’s Illegal Environmental Impact Assessment of the Henoko Base. Sakurai Kunitoshi, The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus: “Before dawn on December 28, 2011, with the end of the year looming, the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) delivered a load of cardboard boxes to the office of the Okinawa Prefectural Government. The boxes contained copies of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for a base in the Henoko district of Nago that is planned as the replacement for the US Marines Corps Air Station Futenma”: here.

The United States has announced its intention to pull 9,000 marines out of Japan’s southern Okinawa and redeploy them to other locations in the Asia-Pacific region: here.

Vietnamese say Bush wrong on both Vietnam and Iraq


This video says about itself on YouTube: ‘A former Viet Cong soldier tells her story. Torture by US troops. Ravages of Agent Orange. Still she is hopeful.’

It would be amusing, if Iraqi civilians and US soldiers would not continue to die by the thousands as they do day after day, to watch how George W. Bush’s Iraq-Vietnam war analogy has brought trouble to Bush apologists like Christopher Hitchens, who have wasted so much time shrilly proclaiming that such comparisons are anathema.

From Associated Press:

Bush Iraq War analogy strikes a nerve in Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam: U.S. President George W. Bush’s latest effort to rally support for his Iraq policy has touched a nerve in Vietnam, where a previous American military intervention led to the deaths of millions of people.

In a speech to U.S. war veterans on Wednesday, Bush invoked the Vietnam War, saying that widespread death and chaos would envelop Iraq if the U.S. troops left too quickly, as he said happened when the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam three decades ago.

But people in Vietnam, where opposition to the U.S. intervention in Iraq is strong, said Thursday that Bush had drawn the wrong conclusions from the Southeast Asian conflict.

“Doesn’t he realize that if the U.S. had stayed in Vietnam longer, they would have killed more people?” said Vu Huy Trieu of Hanoi, a veteran who fought against the U.S. troops in Vietnam. “Nobody regrets that the Vietnam War wasn’t prolonged except Bush.”

Vietnam’s official government spokesman offered a more measured response during a regular media briefing Thursday.

“With regard to the American war in Vietnam, everyone knows that we fought to defend our country and that this was a righteous war of the Vietnamese people,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung. “And we all know that the war caused tremendous suffering and losses to the Vietnamese people.”

Dung said Vietnam hoped that the Iraq conflict would be resolved “very soon, in an orderly way, and that the Iraqi people will do their best to rebuild their country.”

Although Vietnam opposed the U.S. intervention in Iraq, Dung stressed that ties between Hanoi and Washington have been growing closer since the former foes normalized relations in 1995.

In his remarks to U.S. military veterans in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday, Bush said that a hasty retreat from Iraq would lead to terrible violence.

“One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps’ and ‘killing fields [which, as most people, though not Bush, know, were in Cambodia, not Vietnam],'” Bush said.

Many people in Vietnam said Bush’s comparison was ill-considered.

The U.S. could not have overcome the will of the Vietnamese people no matter how many bombs it dropped, said Trieu, the Vietnamese veteran.

“Does he think the U.S. could have won if they had stayed longer?” Trieu asked. “No way.”

The only way to restore order in Iraq is for the U.S. to leave, said Trinh Xuan Thang, a Hanoi university student.

“Bush sent troops to invade Iraq and created all the problems there,” said Thang, adding, “Suicide bombing was unheard of before.”

If the U.S. withdraws, he said, the violence may escalate in the short term but the situation will eventually stabilize.

“Let the Iraqis determine their fate by themselves,” Thang said. “They don’t need American troops there.”

Bush was unwise to stir up sensitive memories of the Vietnam conflict, said Ton Nu Thi Ninh, former chairwoman of the National Assembly’s committee on foreign affairs.

“The price we, the Vietnamese people on both sides, paid during the war was due to the fact that the Americans went into Vietnam in the first place,” Ninh said.

Israel Warned US Not to Invade Iraq after 9/11: here.

The Vietnam war and the Watergate scandal: here.

Christopher Hitchens and the Iraq war in October 2007: here.

Vietnam war Agent Orange victims court case


This video is about Agent Orange during the Vietnam war, and its persistent deadly effects.

By John Percy in Australia:

Agent Orange victims go to court in the US

14 June 2007

An estimated 3 million Vietnamese are suffering from the horrendous health effects inflicted by the dioxin-laden herbicide Agent Orange, which was employed liberally by the US during the Vietnam War.

In 2004, the victims, represented by the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), initiated a legal action in the US against nearly 40 chemical companies that supplied the chemical.

A rejection of the case in early 2005 is being appealed and oral argumentation will begin in a New York court on June 18.

See also here.

Vietnam war glossary: here.

Agent Orange still hurts New Zealand Vietnam war veterans


This video is about the consequences of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

From ScienceDaily:

Agent Orange Causes Genetic Disturbance In New Zealand Vietnam War Veterans, Study Shows

A study published in the journal “Cytogenetic and Genome Research” shows that exposure to Agent Orange, and other defoliants, has led to genetic disturbance in New Zealand Vietnam War veterans which continues to persist decades after their service.

From July 1965 until November 1971, New Zealand Defence Force Personnel fought in the Vietnam War.

During this time more than 76,500,000 litres of phenoxylic herbicides were sprayed over parts of Southern Vietnam and Laos to remove forest cover, destroy crops and clear vegetation from around military installations.

The most common of these defoliant sprays is known as ‘Agent Orange’, and has been shown to lead to adverse health effects and cause genetic damage in humans.

See also here.

Vietnam: wildlife still suffers from US warfare


Saola, Vietnamese stampFrom British daily The Independent:

Vietnamese wildlife still paying a high price for chemical warfare

By Jessie King

Published: 08 July 2006

Forty years on, much of the environmental damage caused to Vietnam by American forces during the Vietnam War has still not been repaired, according to a new study.

In particular, the effects of the massive amounts of chemical defoliants sprayed from the air to destroy the jungle hiding places of the Vietcong guerrillas are still being felt, says the study, the first comprehensive account of Vietnam’s natural history written in English.

Between 1961 and 1971, more than 20 million gallons of herbicides, the most notorious being “Agent Orange“, were sprayed by the US to defoliate forests, clear growth along the borders of military sites and eliminate enemy crops.

Some of the herbicides also contained dioxins – compounds potentially harmful to people and wildlife – while one, “Agent Blue” – used mainly for crop destruction – was made up mainly of an organic arsenic compound.

Repeated applications of the chemicals “sometimes eradicated all vegetation”, according to the study – Vietnam: A Natural History – and the environment has still not recovered in many places.

Weedy plant species such as alang-alang (also known as cogon or American grass) often invaded cleared areas, killing other plants and preventing normal regeneration of the forest.

“In many areas, these weeds continue to dominate the landscape decades after the defoliants were sprayed,” says the study.

As the spray was often concentrated along strategic waterways, it is believed to have had a long-term impact on wetlands and riverside vegetation.

Scientists are finding that dioxins still surface in freshwater animals.

The study adds: “In addition to effects on individuals, the defoliants undoubtedly modified species distribution patterns through habitat degradation and loss, particularly in wetland systems.”

Direct attempts to eradicate Vietnam’s forests were not the only military activities to affect its environment.

The estimated 14 million tons of bombs or cluster-bombs dropped on to northern and southern Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia left an estimated 10 to 15 million large bomb craters.

In addition to the effects of these bombs, the impact of napalm, land mines, and other wartime technology on Vietnam’s biological communities must also be taken into account, says the study.

It has been written by three wildlife specialists at the American Museum of Natural History – Eleanor Jane Sterling, Martha Maud Hurley and the Vietnamese expert Le Duc Minh.

They say: “A country uncommonly rich in plants, animals and natural habitats, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam shelters a significant portion of the world’s biological diversity, including rare and unique organisms and an unusual mixture of tropical and temperate species.”

Most remarkably of all, in the past 15 years a whole suite of species hitherto unknown to science has been discovered in Vietnam, deep in jungles where scientific access had been made impossible by the war.

They include the saola, a large hoofed mammal of an entirely new genus – an antelope-like wild ox which is the world’s largest land-dwelling animal discovered since 1937.

Vietnam: A Natural History is published by Yale University Press.

Last chance to save the saola from extinction? Here.

Rattan planting for livelihoods and conservation in central Vietnam: here.