Thursday, July 7, 2011

C-123K Aircrews: Agent Orange Exposure 1972-1982

USAF IG complaint filed 5/06/11: AF didn't inform aircrews about Agent Orange Exposure! Complaint dismissed 6/9/11 - referred to VA and AF Historical Office? R-U-Serious?

There is a community of us who loved, flew and maintained the C-123K Provider in the years following the return of the aircraft from Vietnam until its retirement in 1982. Some of us are Vietnam vets, most served also in Desert Storm, many in Iraqi/Enduring Freedom. Some of us flew as primary aircrew and career trash haulers, aeromedical evacuation crew or ACMs, but the point is...many of us have cancer!

Turns out the Air Force concluded in 1993 (perhaps even earlier) that many of the Providers were too contaminated for resale as surplus, even after extensive cleaning and replacement of interior components, and the passing of nearly a quarter century!

On 28 Apr 2011 I located this fact in a decision by a board of the General Services Administration (GSBCA14165, Sept 2000) dealing with a lawsuit involving resale of the Providers for commercial use, wherein the GSA happened to include reports from Air Force toxicologists that many of the aircraft stored at the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB remained contaminated with dioxin and other toxins! There's no conspiracy here (except perhaps by the Director of the Office of Environmental Law for the Air for their memo)...its just that nobody got around to having the thought that we'd like to know we'd been exposed. A "minor" oversight? Really? Somehow, the question about our exposure never seems to have been raised. Hard to believe these reports were written by people calling themselves our comrades-in-arms, scientists, physicians, attorneys, officers and leaders!

In particular, Patches (Tail #362) at Wright-Pat has received special attention, with a very detailed study prepared by the Air Force Medical Service in 1994. Identified as AL-OE-BR-CL-1994-0203, the study concludes (and backed up by the May 2011 Oregon Health Sciences University analysis of the Air Force data) that Patches is "heavily contaminated", "extremely hazardous/dangerous" and recommended that museum personnel not work around or enter the aircraft without Tyvek protective clothing and HEPA masks, followed by decontamination.


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