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From the AFP:

The United States Congress is considering voting in funds next year to help Vietnam clean areas heavily contaminated by toxic defoliant Agent Orange, a US official said in Hanoi.

"We are going to provide assistance to help clean up sites where dioxin continues to pose serious health threats to people living there," said Tim Rieser, aide to Democrat senator Patrick Leahy.

"We also want to look for ways to extend assistance to people with disabilities," he told journalists in Hanoi.

Nothing has officially been decided, but the article mentions that the Administration and Congress are in agreement that something needs to be done. This tidbit I feel is most significant:

It would be the first ever large-scale environmental cleaning operation concerning Agent Orange in Vietnam funded by the US. The Vietnam War ended in 1975.

Of course, the effects of Agent Orange remain controversial in the absence of definitive scientific proof. But the fact remains that we have a responsibility to our veterens as well as to the people of Vietnam to 'clean up our mess.' This is yet another example of the fallout and long-term consequences of political, idealogical war. A lesson clearly not learned in the last 30 years in this country by Republicans. There have already been many reports of health problems suffered by veterens of the first Gulf conflict. It will be devastating to observe the full damage and effect of the current Iraq war, as its full havoc will be wrought for years and years and years to come.

This also highlights such a crucial issue which is not always fairly and consistently covered by the media - that of the physical and mental health of our veterens and the civilians of armed conflict. So much more needs to be done for those whom our bombs and artillery pierce by skin and in their nightmares. That's why I suggest using the comment space below to highlight any information, data, resources, and news relating to this story or to the healthcare of people involved in armed conflict.

For more on Agent Orange:

Become familiar with Agent Orange and the Health of Our Vietnam Veterans

Originally posted to animamusika on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 09:09 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Your thoughts (5+ / 0-)

    What can the U.S. do to help address complications from Agent Orange in Vietnam and at home?

    What else does the U.S. Government need to do to address the mental and physical health issues of veterans and civilians of armed conflict?
    (Related: Why does there exist such a gap between the service our soliders due for their country and the benefits and services they receive in return?)

    What specifically can we be doing in Iraq to ensure that unlike Vietnam we do not leave behind generations of health issues? (Immediate withdrawl is a give me, what can we do in addition/aside from that?)

    http://abovethedin.blogspot.com - Above the Din: By Music Lovers for Music Lovers

    by animamusika on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 09:13:30 AM PST

  •  the military is a polluter (3+ / 0-)

    Yes Immediate withdrawl is one solution to not leaving behind any further health problems, but it is not in time for those areas that have been hit with depleted uranium. However this is not all, because the military tends to pollute wherever it goes. For instance here is some of the legacy of the US Navy in Vieques http://melanet.com/...

    Economic Stagnation

    Vieques has a population of approximately 9,400 inhabitants. It has an unemployment rate of almost fifty percent (50%) by most conservative
    estimates. General Electric, which is one of the few large companies in Vieques, will end its operations this summer. Fishing is the only
    industry in the island of Vieques with any truly viable economic significance. This is obviously due to the Navy’s expropriation of the
    most fertile lands in the island that formerly sustained a respectable agricultural activity. Carlos Zenón, the former President of the
    Fishermen Association, said that when the US Navy ships enter the one-hundred-foot deep waters where the fishermen have their traps,
    "the ships’ propellers destroy the buoys that indicate where the traps are." When that happens it is hard for them to find the nets.
    As a result, the nets stay at the bottom of the sea for eight or twelve months, attracting many fish that ultimately die in the traps.
    The US Department of Agriculture conducted a study of these traps and found that a single net collects from 4,500 to 5,000 pounds of fish in
    ten months, which poses a severe environmental threat to the fragile marine ecosystem in that region. In 1977, for example, the US Navy
    destroyed 131 traps.

    Ecological Damage

    The immediate effects of the bombings in Vieques are the destruction of delicate ecosystems in the island, which supports hundreds of species
    of plants and animals that are killed instantly upon the direct impact of the projectiles during military target practices. Furthermore, these
    bombings and military maneuvers lead to serious contamination of the environment due to toxic residues. In an article published in 1988,
    engineer and environmental consultant Rafael Cruz-Pérez identified three ways in which the military's bombings pollutes the environment
    in Vieques: (1) Chemicals in the Missiles’ explosive payloads, (2) Dust and rock particles released into the air as a result of
    the impact and/or explosion of missiles, and (3) Metallic residues left by missiles after they detonate, and the junk and scrap heap they
    use for target practice. "According to information provided by the Navy, this material is never removed...Under the effects of additional
    explosions and sea breezes, metals are oxidized or decomposed, turning in accelerated fashion into leachates that pollute the environment", said Cruz-Pérez in his article. He also referred
    to a scientific study by the Navy, which says that the sources of drinking water in Vieques' Isabel Segunda village and Barrio Esperanza are polluted with toxic chemicals, like TNT, tetryl
    and RDX. Cruz-Pérez commented that "the study doesn't explain how these substances got to the water sources, located more than fourteen kilometers away from the shooting area". In the
    70's, the US Environmental Protection Agency sampled Vieques' air and soil. After studying the samples, the EPA determined that the air has unhealthy levels of particulate matter and the
    ground has iron levels above normal.

    High Levels of Cancer & Health Problems

    The people of Vieques suffer from high levels of cancer and other serious health problems. Studies carried out by the Puerto Rico Department of
    Health have shown that from 1985 to 1989 the rate of cancer in Vieques rose to 26 percent above the rest of PR. Rafael Rivera-Castaño, a retired professor from the University of Puerto Rico's Medical Sciences Campus, has documented an increase in extremely rare diseases, like,
    for example, Scleroderma, lupus, thyroid deficiencies, and not-so-rare ones, like asthma, which is significantly affecting Vieques’ children.

    "How can the children of Vieques get asthma if this is such a small island? The winds that blow in from the ocean are rich in iodine, which
    prevents asthma. The only possible cause is air pollution. We don't have factories here, the only source of air pollution here is the Navy," he
    has stated.

    1. Struggle and Resistance

    The Struggle between David and Goliath

    Vieques’ fishermen are extremely courageous. They have confronted the warships at sea several times. In February of 1978, US admiral Robert
    Fanagan told the fisherman that they would not be allowed to fish during 3 weeks. All NATO countries had planned an intensive military maneuver along all of Vieques’ coastsline. Carlo Zenón informed him that they would protest. "Imagine me, a Puerto Rican fisherman, telling a US Navy admiral that we’re going to cause problems for them" he said. On
    February 6, 1978, fed-up with the Navy’s arrogance, the fishermen of Vieques took a desperate gamble. Forty fishing boats ‘invaded’
    waters where target practice with live ammunition were about to begin. They were carrying out a struggle with the sling shot of David against the Goliath of NATO. They were successful detaining
    the maneuvers and awakening the support of the entire Puerto Rican nation. This activism at sea has won important victories for the people of Vieques during their struggle against the US Navy.

    Mount David

    After David Sanes Rodríguez’s death on April 19th, 1999, a group of civilians gathered in the area of the "accident" to protest the bombardments. This show of outrage and civil disobedience is a direct frontal challenge
    to the US Navy’s ill-gotten authority. On April 21st a group of 15 boats gathered at the place of the bombings, placed a large cross and named the
    area Mount David-in memory of Mr. Sanes. Mount David is a very dangerous place peppered with live ammunition on the ground. In spite of the this great dangers many people have organized protests behind the gates of the Navy’s restricted areas. All these protests have successfully detained the bombings since Sanes’ death.

    America, please. The US Military is killing us (literally)!

    Te quiero muchissimo! - Ceasefire.

    Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.

    by pollbuster on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 09:42:39 AM PST

  •  My Uncle died from AO (5+ / 0-)

    He served two terms in Viet Nam. He had cancer is his brain. He was diagnosed when VA docs were still not admitting AO caused many of these diseases, but his doc told him it was AO. He was 36 years young when he died. My uncle used to say that "they sprayed that shit all over us."

    I have always wanted to make sure that Uncle Bill was named on the Viet Nam memorial because he died from AO. If anyone reading this diary can tell me if there is any movement to get those who later died as a result of war injuries, please reply to this comment. I will check back. Thank you.

    I also have a friend, a former county commissioner, who has neurological problems due to AO.

  •  Mycoremediation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenchiledem

    Paul Stamets and his group at Fungi Perfecti have patents on the remediation of toxic wastes, including Agent Orange, for the simple but innovative use of specific strains of fungi applied to the polluted areas in a particular manner. His patents are solid and the experimental work behind them are sound. They appear to be much more cost effective than standard chemical methods. They are somewhat labor intensive but that is probably not a problem in a developing economy such as Viet Nam.

    These aren't the droids you're looking for.

    by OHdog on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 10:34:05 AM PST

  •  if only (0+ / 0-)

    we could get companies here in the USA to clean up their messes here. Although, hopefully they'll do it faster then the US Army.

    What would prevent Captain America from being a hero "Death, Maybe"

    by Doughnutman on Tue Dec 19, 2006 at 07:21:55 PM PST

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