Wednesday, September 7, 2011

GUEST VIEWPOINT: Herbicides are spawning a tragedy

Be sure to read the comments at the end of the article. Clearly additional public education on the calamity of Agent Orange is needed...

By Barbara Kelley and Kim Kauffman
Laboratory confirmation of powerful toxic chemicals found in the bodies of Triangle Lake residents, while shocking, is not surprising to us. Citizens throughout Oregon have pleaded for decades for an end to this “rain of terror.”

Ever since Agent Orange (2,4-D plus 2,4,5-T) was brought home after the Vietnam War, the forest industry has been using herbicides originally designed for chemical warfare. Dr. Michael Newton of Oregon State University ordered these chemicals from the Air Force to destroy “unwanted vegetation” that competed with Oregon’s commercial crop, Douglas fir, for sun and soil. This practice has resulted in toxic contamination of water, soil, air, wildlife, plants and people.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency stopped 2,4,5-T in an emergency cancellation, the use of 2,4-D has continued unabated, and indeed is one of the most widely used toxic chemicals in America. It is 2,4-D and Atrazine that were found in the urine of Triangle Lake residents, even children. The newspapers have been filled with letters on this subject. Some herbicide victims have written entire books on the war against these poisons, having experienced illness and the death of animals.

Our organization won a federal lawsuit in 1983. It was later combined on appeal with Vietnam veteran Paul Merrell’s case against the U.S. Forest Service, and was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1984. The court’s ruling concluded, “The entire spraying program of both agencies should be halted until they comply with NEPA,” the National Environmental Policy Act.

Several lawsuits in a row came during the 1970s and ’80s, all of them victorious. Herbicide spraying of public forests became illegal — but the cessation was temporary, and the spray programs on private forests have never even paused.


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