Monday, June 30, 2008

The New Agent Orange?

The Boston Globe reported last week, "US soldiers assigned to guard a crucial part of Iraq's oil infrastructure became ill after exposure to a highly toxic chemical at the plant, witnesses testified at a Democratic Policy Committee hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill." KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, allegedly exposed them to "sodium dichromate, an orange, sandlike chemical that is a potentially lethal carcinogen. Specialists say even short-term exposure to the chemical can cause cancer, depress an individual's immune system, attack the liver, and cause other ailments."

So, corporations made chemicals that are poisoning American soldiers at the command of the American government. To anyone who were alive and aware in the 1970's, this must seem like a recurrent nightmare. It's the return of Agent Orange.

According to the American Cancer Society, "About 3 million Americans served in the armed forces in Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s, the time of the Vietnam War. During that time, the military used large amounts of mixtures known as defoliants, which were chemicals that caused the leaves to fall off plants. One of these defoliants was Agent Orange, and some troops were exposed to it." The wikipedia article about Agent Orange says:
Since the 1980s, several lawsuits have been filed against the companies which produced Agent Orange, among them; Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and Diamond Shamrock (which produced 5%[2]). U.S. veterans obtained a $180 million settlement in 1984, with most affected veterans receiving a one-time lump sum payment of $1,200.
Why did the chemical companies pay? According to Lewis Publishing Company, home of The Veteran's Book and Video Store:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (formerly the Veterans Administration, and still known as the VA) currently offers service-connected compensation for certain diseases believed to be associated with Agent Orange exposure. The diseases are:

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Soft tissue sarcoma
Hodgkin's Disease
Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT)
Multiple Myeloma
Respiratory cancers
(including cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea and bronchus)
Prostate cancer
Peripheral neuorapthy
(acute or subacute)
Type 2 Diabetes (Diabetes mellitus)

This is what we call supporting our troops.

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