Monday, February 4, 2013

Update: Agent Orange’s Toxic Trail

In the seaside city of Da Nang, Vietnam, a clean-up is underway to remove dioxin-contaminated soil at a former U.S. military air base. Some 8,500 miles to the east, another clean-up is underway to remove dioxin hot spots along the Passaic River in Newark, NJ and upstream, where tides and floods have washed the worrisome stuff into a county park and into mudflats along a popular stretch of water where high school rowers race and families often relax along the banks and fish.  

Long after the Vietnam War ended, the toxic trail left by dioxin-laced Agent Orange stretches from Newark, where herbicides were manufactured for the military in a way that created a long-lasting contaminant, to Southeast Asia—where millions of gallons of the supersized plant-killer were sprayed on jungles, mangrove swamps, military bases and airfield perimeters during a decade of war starting in 1962. 
Unveiled by the Internet’s astounding accumulation of news and government reports, the toxic trail of testing, transporting and trying out these chemicals—which were made in New Jersey, Michigan, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas—further extends to South Korea, Australia, Canada, Guam, Panama, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Mississippi, Florida, Maryland, New York and many other states.
This alarming drumbeat of news reports began in the late 1960s, as the chemical spray operations aimed at exposing enemy ambush sites and supply routes in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand set off rising waves of concern about rashes of health problems among Vietnamese villagers.
The herbicide spraying on the other side of the world forty-some years ago still reverberates here at home, especially among Vietnam veterans.
“They sell huge shrimp in stores here—check the package to see where it’s from. They grow shrimp in bomb craters in Vietnam,” says Jim Fallon, of Hoboken, NJ, who developed bone cancer in his right arm after serving as a U.S. Army medic in Vietnam.

No comments:

Post a Comment