Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

AOZ wishes you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

We will be closed until Monday, December 2 so that our staff can enjoy the holiday with their families.

State Supreme Court upholds Monsanto pollution settlement with Nitro
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The approval of a settlement in a lawsuit over pollution of the community of Nitro with dioxin from the former Monsanto chemical plant has been upheld by the state Supreme Court.
By a 4-1 vote Friday, the High Court affirmed a January ruling made by Circuit Judge Derek Swope in the case.
Swope approved the class-action settlement which was meant to resolve long-standing allegations that Monsanto had contaminated Nitro with toxic pollution from the production of the defoliant Agent Orange.
The court stated in its 14-page decision that it found “no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error” in Swope’s settlement approval order.
Under the settlement worth $93 million, many Nitro residents would be eligible to receive medical monitoring and property cleanups.
The former Monsanto plant produced various chemicals for more 50 years, including Agent Orange, a defoliant deployed widely in the Vietnam War.
It was with Agent Orange where concerns were raised by residents because its production creates dioxin as a toxic chemical byproduct. Dioxin has been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other medical illnesses.
Before the beginning of a six month trial, Monsanto agreed to the settlement in February 2012.
The agreement involved a 30-year medical monitoring program with a primary fund of $21 million for initial testing and up to $63 million in additional money depending on what levels of dioxin are found in residents.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Support S.1602, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act of 2013

Contact your Senator Today and Ask them to Support S.1602, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act of 2013.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, (CT) has introduced S.1602, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support of 2013, VVA strongly supports this bill, which reflects positively on one of our foremost legislative goals. Not only would it help achieve a measure of justice for the innocent victims of the use of toxic substances in times of war, but it offers unlimited possibilities for scientific research into the effects of these toxic chemicals.
VVA needs your help in gaining support for S.1602 by going to and click on Take Action and send the prepared letter of support to your Senators.

Lawsuit delays trigger gathering at Houston courthouse
More than 60 fishermen and others in the seafood business gathered Wednesday morning in downtown Houston to say they're worried about delays in a government lawsuit against four companies involved in alleged pollution of the San Jacinto River.
The predominantly Vietnamese gathering at the Harris County Civil Courthouse highlighted a case filed in December 2011 by Harris County and the State of Texas against International Paper Co., McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp., Waste Management Inc. and Waste Management of Texas Inc.
"We found out about the dioxin in the San Jacinto River just within the past year," said Henry Nguyen, a Houston businessman who helped organize the group's trip to the courthouse.
"A lot of people in different businesses - grocery stores, seafood restaurants, retailers want to know about dioxin," he said. "They're very worried because their families, their children eat fish. That's one of the main foods for daily life."
After speaking briefly to reporters outside the courthouse at 201 Caroline St., the group filed inside to attend a hearing in the 295th State District Court before Judge Caroline Baker.

Toxic education - Environmental group shines light on Oroville
The Butte Environmental Council has launched an educational campaign in Oroville to help alert citizens to the dioxin contamination that has plagued the southern part of town for decades. Billboards demanding action and a series of public forums have been funded by grants from Ventura-based outdoor-clothing company Patagonia Inc. and the Clif Bar Family Foundation.
Mark Stemen, president of BEC’s board of directors, said Clif Bar and Patagonia both have campaigns aimed at helping low-income communities deal with the toxic problems they may face.
“They were very inspired by the issues and the work we’ve been doing in south Oroville,” Stemen said.
Dioxins have been linked to human reproductive and developmental problems, damaged immune systems and cancer. In 2007, a report by the California Department of Public Health on cancer data found 23 cases of pancreatic cancer in Oroville in 2004 and 2005, which was twice the expected number. No official cause was ever cited, however.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chemical found in Fort Jackson groundwater
— Traces of a caustic pollutant associated with military ammunition have turned up in groundwater at the edge of Fort Jackson, and base officials plan to test private wells nearby to see whether they are contaminated.

The base’s public announcement Thursday of the groundwater pollution sparked questions about when well owners were notified of the potential threat to an area where some residents still rely on wells for drinking water.
Base officials said they found traces of the pollutant in “recent’’ tests at the fort’s southern boundary and the McCrady Training Center, but the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control released a letter saying the military may have known about the contamination for more than a year before telling the agency.
The material, known as Royal Demolition Explosive, or RDX, is a man-made compound that can cause seizures in people who swallow substantial quantities, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has been tied to cancer in laboratory animals and is considered a possible human carcinogen.
In an Oct. 25 letter to Fort Jackson’s public works department, DHEC director Catherine Templeton said the department should have been told of the contamination soon after the military learned about it in the summer of 2012. Last month’s letter told the fort to begin testing any wells downhill from the contaminated area.
“It is our belief that you have known about this exceedance since July 2012 and failed to notify the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) of the potential area of concern within 15 days required by your (hazardous materials) permit,’’ Templeton’s letter said.
Templeton said her agency planned to meet with the Department of the Army to discuss a long-term plan to address the RDX pollution and “other issues discovered today.’’ Details of the scheduled meeting were not available.
An attempt to reach Fort Jackson spokesman Patrick Jones was unsuccessful Thursday afternoon, but base officials said in a news release that the amounts found in groundwater were below health advisory levels established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Read more here:

Monday, November 18, 2013

VVA to Pull Out All Stops to Enact New Toxic Exposure Legislation

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Among the so-called invisible wounds of war are those brought home by troops that may not manifest for a decade or more," said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). "Tragically, these wounds may be passed on genetically to the progeny of our nation's warriors, as we are well acquainted with having been exposed to Agent Orange."
"Therefore we welcome the introduction of S.1602, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act of 2013, which has just been introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).  This legislation would establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for the diagnosis, treatment, and research of the health conditions of the progeny of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service in the Armed Forces, and to provide diagnostic treatment and care to them," Rowan said.
"VVA strongly supports this bill, which reflects positively on one of our foremost legislative goals.  Not only will its enactment help achieve a measure of justice for the innocent victims of the use of toxic substances in times of war, but it offers significant opportunities for scientific research into the intergenerational effects of these toxic chemicals," noted Rowan. This legislation would also establish an Office of Extramural Research, to award grants to reputable scientists and epidemiologists to conduct research on wounds, illnesses, injuries, and other conditions suffered by individuals as a result of exposure to toxic substances while serving as members of the Armed Forces.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Support S.1602, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act of 2013

Contact your Senator Today and Ask them to Support S.1602, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support Act of 2013.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, (CT) has introduced S.1602, the Toxic Exposure Research and Military Family Support of 2013, VVA strongly supports this bill, which reflects positively on one of our foremost legislative goals. Not only would it help achieve a measure of justice for the innocent victims of the use of toxic substances in times of war, but it offers unlimited possibilities for scientific research into the effects of these toxic chemicals.
VVA needs your help in gaining support for S.1602 by going to and click on Take Action and send the prepared letter of support to your Senators.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Do you REALLY want to work at the MOST EVIL COMPANY IN THE WORLD??!!"
Normally, being bought out for close to $1 billion is a cause for celebration. But not everyone's been cheering since the Climate Corp., a 6-year-old weather data and insurance company in San Francisco, was purchased by agribusiness giant Monsanto, known best in some quarters as the chief supplier of genetically modified seeds and powerful herbicides
"I've had to do quite a bit of explaining to people," said CEO David Friedberg, whose company officially joined the Monsanto family this month for approximately $930 million. The opponents included his father, and in an e-mail to Climate Corp.'s employees Friedberg acknowledged the anxiety, adding a subject line reading, "Do you REALLY want to work at the MOST EVIL COMPANY IN THE WORLD??!!"
Friedberg certainly does. A former Google engineer, he co-founded the data-driven "weather insurance and risk management" company in 2007 with another ex-Google employee, angel investor Siraj Khaliq.
Monsanto "has by far the best data out there, and we're able to make better use of it than anyone else," he said Monday before flying to St. Louis to meet with Monsanto executives.
Originally named WeatherBill, the company has 200 employees, mostly scientists and software engineers in San Francisco and Seattle, along with insurance personnel in Kansas City, Kan. It uses big data to track and analyze weather and crop-specific conditions, and provide future forecasts - sometimes called "weather derivatives" - at the touch of a farmer's mobile device. Crop insurance is purchased through an agent.

Is Agent Orange Hurting Generations of Americans?

Thirteen years ago, a local man died after living 25 years with severe birth defects. A couple of months ago, a little girl who'd have been his niece passed away after  two strokes. His mother, her grandmother blames Agent Orange, a pesticide used during the Vietnam War."He lived to be 25, but he was a baby his whole life," says Cindy Castillo from Altoona.  She spent much of her life caring for her son Jeffrey Franks. Jeffrey was born after his father Tom had served two tours in Vietnam. Cindy's other sons, didn't have birth defects.
Tom died at 66 of heart problem recognized by the Veterans Administration, as a possible consequence of Agent Orange exposure.  Cindy keeps his obituary with that of her son Jeffrey and  grandaughter Amanda, 
She remembers, "Amanda was dead at birth but as soon as I saw her, everything, the face, the facial features was everything like Jeffy's.  It was reliving that all over again."
And her five-year-old grandaughter, Meadow Lane, who died in September also had major birth defects.
"She was able to do more than Jeffy, " Cindy says, "although she was like a baby, she  was sitting up at age 5."  She had teeth, but  she needed a feeding tube .
Cindy sons have three healthy children after several miscarriages in their families, losses she also blames on Agent Orange. "There's no disorders in Tom's or my side of the family, and the only link we have is that," she says.
Spina bifida is the only birth defect recognized as possibly linked to Agent Orange in the descendants of male Vietnam Vets. About 15 are acknowledged as being more likely to occur in female vets.  Cindy wants to see those conditions also acknowledged in the descendants of male veterans.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mekdeci Speaks to VVA Associates About the Need for the Centers' Project at the Vietnam Veterans of America National Conference

Betty Mekdeci: Executive Director of Birth Defect Research for Children

Betty Mekdeci, Executive Director of Birth Defect Research for Children speaks to the VVA Associates about the need for the Centers' project at the Vietnam Veterans of America National Conference.

Many Oroville residents aren’t even aware of the legacy of dioxin contamination in their area. “I didn’t even know about this issue until two months ago, and I’ve lived in this community for 30 years,” says Marlene Del Rosario, an Oroville resident. This issue is a timely one, as Oroville looks to implement greening and sustainability measures. BEC feels strongly that these efforts should include an analysis of current dioxin levels in areas of known contamination, and is working with community groups to educate residents on the issue. The billboards going up around Oroville this week are the first part of an education and outreach campaign to inform area residence of the toxicity of dioxin, and its continued presence in areas of South Oroville. 
WHO: Funded by two small Patagonia and Clif Foundation grants, the Butte Environmental Council offered a series of Public Forums to the Oroville community about dioxin contamination in Oroville. The community responded that more education and outreach on the issue was needed. So, local BEC members and staff joined with others in the community to form the Oroville Dioxin Education Committee (ODEC), with the stated goal to “educate and prepare community members, to raise awareness, and to lead the effort to safeguard our community against dioxin.” 
WHERE/HOW: Dioxin in Oroville became a major concern in 1987 with the Koppers fire—the second major fire on the site, with the 1963 fire being the first. Burning chemicals from the wood treatment facility resulted in a large release of dioxin into the air and onto the surrounding soil. More recently, the Covanta-owned Pacific Oroville Power, Inc. biomass incinerator was found to have released significant amounts of dioxin via waste ash piles in Butte and neighboring counties. Now closed for over a year, the company is currently negotiating an out-of-court settlement for dioxin and heavy metals contamination in several counties. The action is being led by Butte County’s District Attorney.Read more:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vietnam veterans still fighting a war against Agent Orange
MANVILLE — More than 100 veterans and family members turned out to a town meeting Sunday at the VFW Hall Post 2290 to discuss the lasting legacy of Agent Orange. Called “The Faces of Agent Orange: A Town Hall Meeting to Raise Awareness,” the event’s goal was to better educate veterans about the toxic defoliant and its impact of illness and health problems.
It is not just the generation that served that has been affected, but their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, said John LeGates, the first vice president of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) New Jersey State Council (NJSC).
“The exposure was done 40 to 50 years ago, but now we are seeing the wide variety of health issues because of the exposure to Agent Orange,” he said.
“The birth defects started showing up shortly after the ’60s and ’70s. We came home and started finding issues,” said Mike Eckstein, chair for the Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee of the NJSC VVA. “Later, when veterans would get together, we would start talking in a group and it was not that one thing — like one miscarriage — happened. It was how many. It had to be connected. It’s not rocket science to see what happened.”
The meeting, which coincides with Agent Orange Awareness Month, was hosted by the VVA NJSC as the first of three they are planning in the next 12 months, LeGates said. The town hall meeting provided the latest information on Agent Orange’s use in Vietnam, health problems that followed and ways that veterans, their children and their families can cope and get aid.

Third Year Report from the U.S. – Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin
In February 2007 concerned Vietnamese and Americans founded the U.S. – Vietnam
Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin to help fully normalize relations between the two countries by establishing bi-nationa projects addressing problems associated with the wartime use of Agent Orange. The Dialogue Group focused on the environmental, scientific and human service challenges which Vietnam continues to face from the dioxin that contaminated Agent Orange.
Since 2007, discussion of the issue has matured from a topic of polarized views to a subject of active bilateral cooperation between the governments of Vietnam and the United States.
It has progressed from poor understanding to clarity and specificity and from no path
forward to new plans, appropriations and a larger number of actors. The two governments agree on the need for a humanitarian response. Six years ago we were discussing how to get started but now, in 2013, we are jointly examining how to deepen and spread the impact of the work and get to the end of it.
During this time the Dialogue Group has brought in new funders, contributing to a
remarkable increase in total resources for community needs spent by multilateral
institutions, governments, philanthropies and businesses in Vietnam—more than $100 million over the last six years. Of this total, $81.6 million has come from the U.S. Congress.
These U.S. government funds are now being used to clean up the dioxin at the Da Nang airport and to provide services to people living with disabilities around the Da Nang, Bien Hoa and Phu Cat airbases.

DOWNLOAD ENTIRE REPORT: The Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin

Tracing sickness back to Vietnam War
I'm one of those people who reads obituaries. I zone in on ages and wonder what caused the death of those who are in their 50s or 60s. Since my brother died of prostate cancer in his 50s as a result of his exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, I'm particularly interested in whether the person died of cancer and, if so, was it due to exposure to Agent Orange.
Hopefully, this letter will reach the families of those whose deaths were due to illnesses that resulted from exposure to Agent Orange. There is an "In Memory Honor Roll" that contains the names of Vietnam veterans whose deaths were due to this exposure.
On April 18, 2011, I attended a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in which my brother, Gregory Patrick Russell, was inducted, along with 92 others, into the "In Memory Honor Roll." To be an honoree, one must have served in the military in Vietnam. The veteran must have died of a disease or committed suicide that was traceable to the time spent there and his or her death does not meet the Department of Defense's criteria for being added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ("The Wall"). There are more than 2,100 people on the honor roll and 58,000-plus names etched into the black granite wall.
Greg's disease was prostate cancer that was traced to exposure to Agent Orange. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in Bennington, Vt. He served in Vietnam in 1970-1971. Greg never complained and enjoyed life to the fullest even though his disease spread and riddled his body with sores and pain. He lost the battle on Thanksgiving Day, 2010, when his body could no longer overcome pneumonia and kidney problems.
If you have a loved one who was in Vietnam and died due to complications from exposure to Agent Orange or other causes attributed to being in Vietnam, fill out an application to have him or her added to the "In Memory Honor Roll." The ceremony gave my siblings, my sister-in-law and me yet another chance to grieve the life of this remarkable man and allowed us to meet other families who lost their loved ones, too. A description of the program and the application are on this website:
I thank all the veterans for their service to our country and salute them this Veterans Day and every day.
Eileen Russell Zanarini

Environmentalist suggests non-burning of wastes
To deal with the huge volume of garbage produced by towns and cities, an eminent environmental activist of Assam has emphasizes on promoting non-burning technologies.
Aashim K Chatterjee, who strongly opposes the open burning of garbage, argued that the practice could help curbing level of pollution in the air.
Attending a programme recently on in Guwahati Press Club, Chatterjee pointed out that the increase of dioxin in the air was because of open burning of various wastes that invited a number of cancerous diseases to the human health system. He also asserted that  the “waste which cannot be reused, recycled, or composted cleanly, should be land-filled rather than incinerated as it would help in lesser release of dioxin to the environment.” The dioxin is a nomenclature given to a large group of chemical compounds with similar structure those are made up of Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen and Chlorine atoms. “Burning of municipal waste, bio-medical waste, backyard blazing and automobile emissions continue to contribute to the release of dioxin into the environment, which is feared as one of the most common and causative agents of cancer,” said Chatterjee, who is considered an expert in waste management process for more than a decade now. “We are exposed to dioxin through the air that we breathe. The pollutants in the air carry large amounts of it which could target us at any given instance. Hence we must limit its release into the environment,” said the activist. The statistics of cancer patients in Assam was the highest in Northeast India. According to a list prepared in 2011-2012 by the activist, Assam had 4443 cancer patients followed by Meghalaya with 101 cases. The other states of the region had less than hundred reported cancer patients. Nagaland had 84, Arunachal Pradesh 65, Mizoram 59, Manipur 38 and Tripura had the lowest of 14 cases. Chatterjee has been on a mission to generate public awareness on the growing menace of air, water and surface pollution across the region by imparting training, technical knowhow and waste management services to a large number of hospitals in Assam. He also stressed on the strict implementation of legislations with an aim to curb the menace of dioxin.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

House passes bill to help Blue Water Navy Vietnam vets
WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives has passed a bill sponsored by Congressman Christopher Gibson (R, NY-19)) that would move the ability of Vietnam veterans who were assigned to ships off the coast and were afflicted with Agent Orange to receive benefits.
Military personnel who served on the ground and contracted the disease have been covered automatically, but those on board ships off the coast of Vietnam have been required to list detailed specifics of how they contracted it, making it almost impossible to gain benefits.


Latest Title:
A bill to establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for the diagnosis, treatment, and research of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during service in the Armed Forces, to provide certain services to those descendants, to establish an advisory board on exposure to toxic substances, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Blumenthal, Richard [CT] (introduced 10/29/2013) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 10/29/2013 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. 


Exposure to Agent Orange by Location