Monday, September 18, 2017

Infrastructure built to tackle dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa airport

Dong Nai (VNA) – The Ministry of Defence on September 16 launched the construction of infrastructure to address dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa Airport in Bien Hoa city, the southern province of Dong Nai.
The project has total investment of 270 billion VND (11.8 million USD) from the State budget. Key facilities include disarming war-time mines and bombs, building roads, zoning off dioxin contaminated areas and removing organisations and military works from the new detected squalid regions.  Speaking at the launching, Deputy Minister of Defence Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh said that the project shows Vietnamese Government’s efforts in tackling post-war bombs and mines as well as toxic chemicals in hot spots. Once completed, it will help officials, soldiers and local people reduce their exposure to detrimental dioxin, he highlighted.  The move is a technical infrastructure preparation for a dioxin treatment project worth 500 million USD in non-refundable official development assistance from the US and other partners. Construction of the dioxin treatment project will begin latter this year, he added.
Bien Hoa Airport is considered as one of the dioxin hot spots in the country due to its high level of the chemical. According to assessments from Vietnam and the US, some 500,000 cubic metres of dioxin contaminated land in the airport need to be treated, requiring a large amount of capital and technology.-VNA

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Forgotten Victims of Agent Orange

Phan Thanh Hung Duc, 20, lies immobile and silent, his midsection covered haphazardly by a white shirt with an ornate Cambodian temple design. His mouth is agape and his chest thrusts upward, his hands and feet locked in gnarled deformity. He appears to be frozen in agony. He is one of the thousands of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.
Pham Thi Phuong Khanh, 21, is another such patient. She quietly pulls a towel over her face as a visitor to the Peace Village ward in Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, starts to take a picture of her enlarged, hydrocephalic head. Like Mr. Hung Duc, Ms. Khanh is believed to be a victim of
Operation Ranch Hand, the United States military’s effort during the Vietnam War to deprive the enemy of cover and food by spraying defoliants.
Perhaps Ms. Khanh does not want strangers to stare at her. Perhaps she feels ashamed. But if she does feel shame, why is it that those who should do not?
The history of Agent Orange and its effects on the Vietnamese people, as well as American soldiers, should shame Americans. Fifty years ago, in 1967, the United States sprayed 5.1 million gallons of herbicides with the toxic chemical dioxin across Vietnam, a single-year record for the decade-long campaign to defoliate the countryside. It was done without regard to dioxin’s effect on human beings or its virulent and long afterlife. Agent Orange was simply one of several herbicides used, but it has become the most infamous.
Chemical companies making Agent Orange opted for maximum return despite in-house memos that a safer product could be made for a slight reduction in profits. American soldiers were among the unintended victims of this decision: Unwarned, they used the empty 55-gallon drums for makeshift showers.
Over the years, there have been both American and Vietnamese plaintiffs in Agent Orange court cases in the United States. Possibly the only one that could be considered a victory for the plaintiffs was an out-of-court settlement of $180 million in the 1980s for about 50,000 American veterans. Many more never benefited from the case because their illnesses did not show up for years.
These American veterans have fought for decades to get medical treatment and compensation for birth defects and ailments presumed to be Agent Orange-related diseases. Records from Agent Orange lawsuits indicate that both the military and the chemical companies involved were well aware, early on, of the dangers of dioxin, so much so that our government terminated the program three years before the war’s end.
Our government has acknowledged some of its responsibility to its veterans. In 2010, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki added three Agent Orange-related diseases to the V.A.’s compensation list, and Congress allocated $13.3 billion to cover the costs. An enterprising Senate aide slipped in $12 million for Agent Orange relief in Vietnam, only a small portion of which was for health. These disparities in funding are unconscionable, as is the American government’s illogical refusal to acknowledge that Agent Orange has caused the same damage to the Vietnamese as it has to Americans.

Utah VA Program Meant To Help Rural Vets Faces Elimination

The Veteran’s Administration, or VA, is in charge of getting benefits like healthcare and disability compensation to Utah’s former service members. But for veterans from past wars, it can be hard to navigate the system. One local program is meant to help veterans but it may soon disappear.
Wesley Grossnickle was a helicopter door-gunner in Vietnam in 1970 and ’71.
"We was in Hueys, so we was in support. We were what’s called the 229th Assault," Grossnicle says. 
Today he lives in Cornish, Utah, a town of about 300. Grossnickle has hearing and vision problems. He also has heart trouble from exposure to Agent Orange and he is being evaluated for PTSD. There are lots of things the VA can do for Grossnickle. The problem is finding out about them.

Friday, September 15, 2017


We update our meetings regularly on the Town Hall Meeting Calendar:

September 23, 2017
Chicago, Illinois
Contact: Pat O'Brien 847.403.4676
Roger McGill 773.203.3353

October 1, 2017
Fargo, North Dakota
Contact: Becky Bergman 701-293-5151
Dan Stenvold 701-331-2104

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Residents washed away by Harvey wait for answers about waste pit pollution

Hundreds of families in riverfront neighborhoods east of Houston fear that massive flooding has poisoned their land and fouled their wells with sewage, industrial pollution and toxic sediment from the region's most notorious Superfund site - the San Jacinto Waste pits.
The San Jacinto River floods unleashed by the remnants of Hurricane Harvey created a wall of water that smashed into nearly dozens of homes in the Channelview riverfront neighborhood next to the pits and demolished two low-lying subdivisions in Highlands.
Some Channelview river bottom homes washed away entirely. Others lost their roofs and were pushed off foundations. A few ruins now teeter on the brink of sink holes that now pockmark the neighborhood, called San Jacinto River Estates, that's built around a county park and a private marina.
Linda Bonner, 71, shuffles in black tennis shoes through the silt to a jagged hole where her front porch, dining room and bedroom used to be. Bonner bought her place in 1978 - unaware of old paper mill dump sites on the riverbanks behind it - and raised seven children here. She rebuilt after the 1994 floods and again after Hurricane Ike, but says Harvey "was the worst."
Her home now slants, half in and half out of a sandy6-foot deep hole. It's stuck, which is much the same that Bonner has felt since 2008, when the federal government first declared the waste pits worthy of national Superfund status because of the cancer-causing dioxins and other poisons they contain.
"The Superfund site sits not a mile from here, but if you don't have anywhere to go what do you do? You live with it," she said. "But now I'm done. … And when I leave, I'm going to throw away these shoes too."

Time for EPA to order complete removal of San Jacinto Waste Pits

We were warned and failed to act.  
After Harvey, we must.
Environmentalists have said for years the San Jacinto Waste Pits — filled with decades-old paper bleaching waste —was vulnerable to flooding with the risk that waters would spread sediment heavily contaminated with cancer-causing dioxins.
“I think this is a loaded gun, in terms of a catastrophe. Not just to the residences, but the bay as a whole,” Sam Brody of Texas A&M University Galveston said in 2013 about the threat of a hurricane or flood to the capped waste pits. Why? Because soil from the waste pits contains dioxins and other long-lasting toxins linked to birth defects and cancer.
Did Harvey’s record rainfall set more poison free?
No doubt. Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters spread uncontainable toxic materials over a wider area, making a tragic situation worse.
The waste pits were completely covered with floodwaters. The AP reported that the flow from the raging river washing over the toxic site was so intense it damaged an adjacent section of the Interstate 10 bridge.
In 2011, a temporary cap was installed on the waste pits but was damaged during a relatively minor storm in 2012. Since then, the waste pits cap has required extensive repairs on at least six occasions, with large sections becoming displaced or going missing.
No doubt Harvey’s record rainfall set more poison free.

Friday, September 8, 2017

FLORIDA Agent Orange Town Hall Meetings CANCELLED!

ACTION ALERT! Make The Call!

On Monday, 11 September 2017 at 9:00 am; call your members of Congress to support H.R. 299 and S.422 the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act! 
Make the Call

 Let your politicians know that you are watching and that you care, make the call  on September 11, 2017 at 9:00 am; ask to speak to your Representatives  and Senators requesting their support for passage of The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017, also, thank your member if they have already signed onto the bill.

Ask your family, friends and colleagues who support this issue to join you and make the call too.

If  you cannot call please go to and send the prepared message in support of  H.R. 299 and S.422, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017
If you have any questions, please contact Sharon Hodge, Deputy Director for Policy/Government Affairs in VVA National Office, 1-800-882-1316, Ext. 111.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


We update our meetings regularly on the Town Hall Meeting Calendar:

September 12, 2017
Naples, Florida
Contact: Ernie Kerskie 239-216-2763
John McGinty 904-679-1947
William MacNeill 239-643-7081

September 13, 2017
Miami, Florida
Contact: Jose Montes 305-992-2140
Luis Lalama 301-528-5221
John McGinty 904-679-1947

September 15, 2017
Marathon Key, Florida
Contact: Andy Paine 305-481-3541
Dan Perkins 305-414-3104
John McGinty 904-679-1947

September 23, 2017
Chicago, Illinois
Contact: Pat O'Brien 847-403-4676
Roger McGill 773-203-3353