Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ft. McClellan declared hazardous site
Dale Robinson/For the Times-Georgian 
A few months back, I gave an update on the areas of exposure for Agent Orange and some of the other chemical agents that were used during the years from WWII through Vietnam. Their use was most visible in the jungles of Southeast Asia as showing the film of planes spraying defoliants was a staple for the network news in the evenings. As we now know, many civilians and military personnel were also exposed by “second-hand” remnants of these chemicals in storage areas, ships, planes and vehicles that transported them to the areas of use, and testing areas. Some of these areas are very close to home.
In an article that was posted on Jan. 20 by John DeMayo, he reports another Army post, and the surrounding civilian area have been identified as having been contaminated by several dangerous chemical agents for years.

It is a post that many of you are familiar with or maybe have even served on that is less that an hour away from the city of Carrollton – Ft. McClellan, Ala. According to the information in his article, Army personnel stationed there were exposed to several substances in the time frame from 1933 to 1999 that were banned as being harmful to humans, such as PCBs and Agent Orange. After the post closure, an investigation was called for in 1999 to determine the cause and scale of the contamination. The culprit was found to be Monsanto after the investigation resulted in finding millions of pounds of their chemicals in open pit landfills on the property. Based on these findings, the EPA declared Ft. McClellan a toxic site and ordered a clean-up.
In 2003, the city of Anniston filled suit against Monsanto and won. The settlement resulted in an award of $700 million to the city and residents to help care for the damage done by exposure to the chemicals that found their way into the soil and water supply of the city. Monsanto also agreed to pay for clean-up costs.
What about the thousands of veterans who were stationed on McClellan and spent weeks, months or even years on this post? Believe it or not, they were never made aware of the suit with Monsanto, and furthermore, the judge who made the ruling excluded them from participation in the suit. His rationale was that any veterans who experienced any illnesses related to their exposure there could apply to the Department of Veterans Affairs for any future care and treatment.

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