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U.S. starts landmark Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam

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"So, let's identify the guilty ones and bring them to justice!"

I'm betting they're all pushing up daisies, Bertie.

And I bet some are still alive. Bring them to Vietnam for justice.

And it was only found the stuff was dangerous in 1971? I find that hard to believe, but assuming it is true, so what? The United States of America is still obligated to clean up itself.

A question - has the United States of America "learned" from it's past agression? No. It's is an effective deterrent against some countries that would take advantage though. Not anti-US and very grateful for their role in retaining world peace. But in the case of conflicts like Vietnam and more recent ones - give up already. Let the locals decide.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Madverts,

"So, let's identify the guilty ones and bring them to justice!"

I'm betting they're all pushing up daisies, Bertie.

Yes. You may be right.

What I'm concerned about is the stockpile of Agent Orange the US keeps in Okinawa currently.

It was in the Japan Times: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120615a1.html

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

"What a total waste of good legislation that was originally passed and funded by the private sector"

I agree in principle - dioxin is one of if not the the most destructive chemical known to man, the companies making and supplying it to any military is a forgone conclusion to the end use, therefore as equally criminal as dumping it on your enemy in my eyes. Especially since the producers apparently knew how lethal to humans it could be.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cletus: Just curious what other nations should get on board and why? What other nations bombed Vietnam back to the stone age, what other nations sprayed defoliant of vast areas of the country?

I understand that the world chooses to focus on the US since there was no victory, and for some people that is mental masturbation, but the history of that area is extremely complex involving many nations. The "small war" you mention with Chinese killed nearly as many Chinese troops as Americans. It was over so fast with so many casualties but like I said, the important thing is that China is not the US so no one cares. You have Vietnam invading Cambodia, Vietnam invading Laos, the French involvement, the US involvement, the Australian involvement, the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, the Russians threatening to go in to counter China, China invading Vietnam, etc. It's one of the most complex war histories in the world with alliances changing overnight.

So like I said, it's a good start. Any action by any side in the conflict that leads to repairing relations is a good thing. And it's yet another example of the US involved in a military conflict with a nation and moving past it and returning relations to normal. It's much different from the hatred countries seem to hold onto forever.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Madverts,

Just for the record:

In the past, businesses that made and sold chemical products were taxed to clean up orphan sites. Congress repealed this tax in 1995, meaning Superfund didn’t have as much money to clean all the hazardous-waste sites found by the program.

Superfund was bankrupt by 2003, meaning all future cleanups had to be done with taxpayer money.

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/news/superfund/?ar_a=1#page=2

What a total waste of good legislation that was originally passed and funded by the private sector, targeted to only one industry was self financing and did not impact all taxpayers and was regulated well by the Government to produce the results that had benefited all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Madverts,

Unfortunately this one of those issues as far as a superfund goes where lawyers get involved and could care less what is the right thing to do. Lawyers for the companies frantically not admitting any liabilities because if they do the companies they represent will go bankrupt. Plantiff lawers who see nothing but a golden chance to fleece as much cash as they can and demand outrageous settlements in the millions of dollars for their clients and shaving off their fees off the top.

Politics, human suffering alnd greed all wrapped it the worse.

The superfund that was enacted after love canal in the states and the Times beach Missouri dioxin find was the best thing to happen in the U.S on this type of issue. The tax was on oil companies and chemical companies to pay for the clean ups And was the only good thing in my opinion that the Carter administration really did for the country. The tax expired in 1995, and it should not have in my opinion to fund any future clean ups and keep the lawyer vultures out of the picture.

This is one rare time were I advocate more Government taxes and regulation on an industry that through the nature of the business they are in can cause extreme harm to the environment , and also recognize the extreme value they also produce in providing energy and goods and services that benefit all of us and do not deserve vulture lawyer justice when there is an incident in the indusrtry.

Carter had right by doing the superfund in the first place and that I will give him credit for. It is to bad that we cannot get back to that same place in 2012 and renew the legislation again to fund this effort in Vietnam and to be prepared for the inevitable environmental impact from companies in the future when Murphy's law takes effect as it always does "If it can go wrong. It will".............I

0 ( +0 / -0 )

73,000 cubic meters, if they dug down one meter would only be around 18 acres worth of soil. It could be more or less depending on the depth of soil removal. But let's just say for the sake of argument that it's 18 acres. Yet Agent Orange was sprayed over 5 million acres. So the project will cost $43 million to clean up 18 acres. A better solution would be to use biological organisms to break down the dioxins in the soil. A farmer could pollinate his crops using human labor but it's cheaper and more efficient to use bees. The same could be said of breaking down dioxins. This article is written in a way that makes it look like the Vietnamese were doing nothing while they waited for the US to act. The Vietnamese have been working on bioremediation since 1999. Since 2009 they've been working with scientists from the US to break down dioxins using bacteria.

In May 2009, scientists from the institute continued to carry out the project in coordination with the US Department on Environmental Protection from the expenditure of the Ford Foundation, piloting at the scale of 2 cubic meters with 11 different formulas in old military bases in Da Nang city.

This sort of thing has also been going on in Japan.

A research group led by Prof. Kosaku Murata at Kyoto University's Graduate School of Agriculture has succeeded in engineering "super bacteria" capable of degrading dioxin two to three times faster than wild-type strains. The research findings were published in the January 16, 2006, issue of the British journal Nature Biotechnology.

I wonder which company will get the contract to clean up the soil and whether any members of Congress that were on the committee to allocate the funds have ties to the company contracted to remediate the soil.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"So, let's identify the guilty ones and bring them to justice!"

I'm betting they're all pushing up daisies, Bertie.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not a bad idea, but I imagine it is fair to say the politicians were aware at the time also. It's probably the reason you haven't seen a backlash against the companies and the continued denial, as one thing politicians certainly are good at is finding a scapegoat.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

some07791,

A legacy of the American empire and a war crime. However, not all Americans are guilty of this crime. The criminals are the few decision makers who decided to use this toxic stuff for years.

So, let's identify the guilty ones and bring them to justice!

No, wait a minute!

We can't!

That would be unpatriotic!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Madverts,

Agreed, but DOW and the other chemically companies did not inform the public of this and that is really who should be paying for the clean up. They also harmed US vets in the gross negligence and betrayal of trust by telling the Military that this was safe to use when their internal data started to show otherwise.

I would also support 100 percent that a special tax be placed on tthe manufactures of the stuff of say one or two percent on their profits to fund another "superfund" dedicated only to the clean up in Vietnam and to also fund US Vets that are also still suffering from the after effects of the negligence on their part.

M

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Don't faint but I actually agree with you on this"

That's cool buddy. I just thought it was fair to state that all those responsible take part in the clean-up, not just the Americans as you stated earlier ;)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sail,

A declassified letter by V.K. Rowe at Dow’s Biochemical Research Library to Bioproducts Manager Ross Milholland dated June 24, 1965 clearly states that the company knew the dioxin in their products, including Agent Orange, could hurt people.

<http://www.aafv.org/Chemical-companies-US-authorities

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Madverts,

The war itself was starting to draw criticism in 1965 in the US. The battle for public opinion was just starting just for the hearts and minds of the American people to continue to support the war for context. The anti war movement would seize on this and they did and Madverts, the first incontrovertible evidence of the danger of the stuff was only confirmed in 1971. Facts are facts and it was only then it was banned from use.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Madverts,

Don't faint but I actually agree with you on this

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Readers, references to World War II are not relevant to this discussion. Please focus your comments on what is in the story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

" There's not much comparison there with the longterm US refusal to accept the effects of Agent Orange on human populations who were exposed to it in war."

Australian denial on the subject has been pretty similar, the Australian Government at first denied that Australian troops had been exposed to chemical defoliants, but later retracted that in the face of contrary evidence. Veterans took their government to task, but even today the denial continues as to which type of defoliant was used and caused health horrors for not only the Vietnamese, but also the foreign troops involved in the conflict.

The trials after the second world war were largely show trials, and let's not forget the victors (or the Allies in the case of the French) write the history books. The US and her Allies at the time lost the Vietnam war....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The whole country was mutilated. Americans should bow their heads in shame but most still believe this was a liberation rather than realising it was terrorism from the USA using WMD`s.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

"Agent Orange was not found out to be the really nasty stuff it is until 1971 when it was discovered that it caused high rates of cancer in rats and then it was banned from use."

I don't buy that Sail, the first reports of birth defects in children born in areas subject to aerial spraying appeared in 1965 which was already drawing criticism in the USA.

War means people do shitty things to one another. I don't think there can be any justifications, I've always found "rules" for war pretty ridiculous.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cletus,

Agent Orange was not found out to be the really nasty stuff it is until 1971 when it was discovered that it caused high rates of cancer in rats and then it was banned from use.

Just as PCBs are a contuining nasty left over from manufacturing. It was also used for years and years in everything from lubricants to electrical cabling until it was also discovered that Polychloride Biphenyls also bio accumulated, does not bio grade and was finally banned from worldwide manufacture in 1977.

There was also years of effects noticed with handling of PCBs such as severe chloracne but no definitive scientific proof until years later just as with the use of the class of Agent Orange defoliants.

I am not defending its use or am I condoning it. I am understanding why it was used and I am stating the facts and putting into context the reasons it was used during the conflict. It was thought to be safe and the reasoning at the time was to deprive the enemy of cover and food supplies to conduct operations against U.S and allied forces, and if you think about in the context of the times, it was a lot more humane to try to defeat an enemy by denying him cover and food to give up the fight than it was to carpet bomb the areas he was operating out. Which unfortunately was how it still ended up being in the end.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Madverts

"The correct answer to that is the US. Who should clean it up? That again is easy the country that put it there...." Australian troops were also involved in the use of herbicides and insecticides, the latter being widely sprayed in Phuoc Tuy province, particularly at Nui Dat.

Yes indeed they did Madverts and they Australian government should be cleaning up that area around the old Australian base at Nui Dat where they sprayed the chemicals.

As an Australian Cletus, I thought you would have known Aussie troops were involved in the spraying. Vietnam was afterall the longest major conflict in which Australians have been involved. The RAAF contributed to the ariel bombing too.....

Indeed they did there Madverts. However their part was minute in the scale of things flying a mere 11,000 sorties in the 4 years they where in Vietnam out of the 1,900,000 odd sorties flow in total by all forces. Did the RAAF bomb anywhere in North Vietnam? Nope. Did the RAAF carpet bomb areas? Nope.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

sailwind

The other point not being grasped is at the time of the use of these agents that the human health hazards involved were not considered to be any real long term danger to human health.

Really! Funny, because there is evidence that the long term effects where known prior to the agent orange spraying.

Given those facts and historical context of the avuialble data at the time, it was also the reason that New Zealand also supplied Agent Orange to the conflict and did not feel it was in the realm of being outside the morality of the conflict to provide it for use in the conflict. In 2005, the New Zealand government confirmed that Agent Orange chemicals had been supplied from New Zealand to the United States military during the conflict. From 1962 to 1987, 2,4,5T herbicide had been manufactured at an Ivon Watkins-Dow plant in New Plymouth, which was then shipped to U.S. military bases in South East Asia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OperationRanchHand

Ah so now the manufacturer is responsible for the end users use of a product. That IS what you are saying after all that any manufacturer who makes a product should be held accountable for how a customer uses their product. Hmm like to see that one fly....

If you want to make the just the U.S the bad guy here for using these agents during that conflict you are not being objective of the actual history involved and that is the point.

Well lets see the US is the one that sprayed the chemical not the manufacturer. The US knew the risks so yeah they are the bad guys.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

"The correct answer to that is the US. Who should clean it up? That again is easy the country that put it there...."

http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/aftermath/agent-orange.php

Australian troops were also involved in the use of herbicides and insecticides, the latter being widely sprayed in Phuoc Tuy province, particularly at Nui Dat.

As an Australian Cletus, I thought you would have known Aussie troops were involved in the spraying. Vietnam was afterall the longest major conflict in which Australians have been involved.

The RAAF contributed to the ariel bombing too.....

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Canberra_B20_2_Sqn_RAAF_over_Vietnam_1970.jpg >

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My point is quite simple really but you dont seem to grasp it.

The point that your not grasping was the use of defoliants in Vietnam was a joint effort and used with the blessing and the encouragement of the South Vietnamese Government at the time. The other point not being grasped is at the time of the use of these agents that the human health hazards involved were not considered to be any real long term danger to human health. J

Just as it wasn't discovered until much later that the pesticide DDT that was used for mesquito control to combat malaria and was thought to be safe for years and years until it finally discovered that it bio accumulated and for years later it was destroying nesting birds egg shells and caused the American bald eagle to be threatened with extinction in the lower 48 States.

Given those facts and historical context of the avuialble data at the time, it was also the reason that New Zealand also supplied Agent Orange to the conflict and did not feel it was in the realm of being outside the morality of the conflict to provide it for use in the conflict.

In 2005, the New Zealand government confirmed that Agent Orange chemicals had been supplied from New Zealand to the United States military during the conflict. From 1962 to 1987, 2,4,5T herbicide had been manufactured at an Ivon Watkins-Dow plant in New Plymouth, which was then shipped to U.S. military bases in South East Asia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ranch_Hand

If you want to make the just the U.S the bad guy here for using these agents during that conflict you are not being objective of the actual history involved and that is the point.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am not a supporter of communism by any means. The Vietnamese people are not communists "at heart", but the problem is that the US supported a corrupt government in South Vietnam in the 1960s. Also the Vietnamese were getting tired of foreigners occupying their country (as most people would). Many allied with the communists since they were the group with the best chance of driving out the foreign occupation, not because the the ideology per se. What's unfortunate is that their wasn't another party willing to do that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

sailwind

"Just curious what other nations should get on board and why?" Same reason that they used in the first place to support the U.S effort to stop communist aggression in Vietnam.

MMM, l suppose you also believe that the Gulf of Tonkin incident (the second one) was real too.... My point is quite simple really but you dont seem to grasp it. Who sprayed the defoliant? Who had it in Vietnam stockpiled? Who contaminated the ground and water? The correct answer to that is the US. Who should clean it up? That again is easy the country that put it there....

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

America is going to defend a nation who humilated them 40 years ago from Chinese aggression.......Very amusing! No wonder why Mr Romney appealed President Obama: Should learn to be an American!

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Just curious what other nations should get on board and why?

Same reason that they used in the first place to support the U.S effort to stop communist aggression in Vietnam.

The Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, or Manila Pact, was signed on 8 September 1954 in Manila,[2] as part of the American Truman Doctrine of creating anti-communist bilateral and collective defense treaties.

Both the United States and Australia cited the alliance as justification for involvement in Vietnam.[17] American membership in SEATO provided the United States with a rationale for a large-scale U.S. military intervention in Southeast Asia.[13] Other countries, such as Great Britain and key nations in Asia, accepted the rationale.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southeast_Asia_Treaty_Organization

1 ( +2 / -1 )

lostrune2

"What other nations bombed Vietnam back to the stone age" China and Vietnam fought a brief war in 1979:

Correct they fought a small war, nothing like the decade long US involvement. China didnt bomb large tracts of the country, they didnt spray chemicals of large areas. My question was a simple one, Superlib asked if other nations would get on board, my question was who else apart from the US is responsible for the use and spraying of these chemicals. Hence who else has an obligation to clean these up

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The U.S. dropped Agent Orange on areas where its soldiers would be too, so even they didn't think it was that dangerous back then. Now they do.

The U.S. couldn't properly clean up their Vietnam bases before leaving, on account that they lost the war and were thrown out in haste. Then Vietnam would had no diplomatic relations with the U.S. for years, so there's no way the U.S. can do anything about the leftover Agent Orange regardless.

What other nations bombed Vietnam back to the stone age

China and Vietnam fought a brief war in 1979:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Vietnamese_War

The PRC launched the offensive in response to Vietnam's 1978 invasion and occupation of Cambodia, which ended the reign of the PRC-backed Khmer Rouge.

The Chinese invaded Northern Vietnam and captured some of the northernmost cities in Vietnam.

China achieved its strategic objective of reducing the offensive capability of Vietnam along the Sino-Vietnam border by implementing a scorched earth policy. China also achieved another strategic objective of demonstrating to its Cold War foe, the Soviet Union, that they were unable to protect their Vietnamese ally.

Up to this day, China and Vietnam have an adversarial relationship.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

SuperLib

Nice rebuilding effort. Let's see if other nations get on board,

Just curious what other nations should get on board and why? What other nations bombed Vietnam back to the stone age, what other nations sprayed defoliant of vast areas of the country?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Nice rebuilding effort. Let's see if other nations get on board,

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A legacy of the American empire and a war crime. However, not all Americans are guilty of this crime. The criminals are the few decision makers who decided to use this toxic stuff for years.

Better late than never for the cleanup...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cletus,

When are they going to clean up the agent orange in Okinawa?

Not only that when are they going to start paying compensation to the others affected by these chemicals they used in Vietnam. i.e. their allies (Aust, NZ, SK, Thai's) that where also exposed to these chemicals

Yes, yes, yes. Of course!

The States has some cleaning up to do!

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

And hey, what about the long-term effects of all the DU (depleted uranium) the U.S. military pumped into Iraq and Afghanistan that is already causing cancers?

How about addressing that too?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I had a look at the Wikipedia article on Agent Orange. I should warn you that it is really disturbing, some of the pictures are graphic.

I'm not anti-US but for the love of humanity, what were they thinking? 9 years of spraying? Possibly the worst war crime ever.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Better late than never. I realize their motivation isn't entirely altruistic, but at least they're going to do it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

And when you consider that it was a civil war, and were there supposedly to help our allies have a future in their own country

Does anyone seriously believe that any more? Did anybody at the time?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

At least Vietnam won the war.

Half of Vietnam won the civil war. The other half lost. America was not at war with Vietnam. It was at war with North Vietnam, on the side of South Vietnam. Which is why I call it the Vietnamese Civil War, because, #cough# some people seem to get confused.

And when you consider that it was a civil war, and were there supposedly to help our allies have a future in their own country, it makes the use of toxic agent orange seem even more stupid, evil and sick, if that is even possible.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Wow! Can't believe they are just getting around to doing this now. (but I guess I can really)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BertieWooster

When are they going to clean up the agent orange in Okinawa?

Not only that when are they going to start paying compensation to the others affected by these chemicals they used in Vietnam. i.e. their allies (Aust, NZ, SK, Thai's) that where also exposed to these chemicals

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

When are they going to clean up the agent orange in Okinawa?

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120615a1.html

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The Vietnam War is one of the many dark chapters of the 20th Century and the US has a lot to answer for what they did to that country. But better late than never I guess. Maybe next we can get them to clean up all the bombies they dropped over Laos which are maiming Laotian kids every year too.

Why has it taken so long for the US to take action? Why now? THESE are the questions we should be asking. Well, the Americans are not doing this out of the kindness of their heart, oh no sirree. They are doing it because they are worried about China and need as many allies in that area as they can get. That's why they need to win back the hearts of the Vietnamese people through this great PR campaign.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

At least Vietnam won the war. Sadly the price was enormous to oust the idiots.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

America had to destroy Vietnam to save it.

American morality has been going down hill since the dropping of firebombs and nukes on Japanese cities and all the garbage excuses used to defend those massacres of civilians led to the casualness of poisoning of the Vietnamese people buried under the guise of wanting to help.

Its heartening that the U.S. Congress of today is finally doing something about the past. But sadly, I dont think the lessons will be applied to the future. In fact, the lesson seems to be to always find a new dastardly weapon and use it until it gets banned, and claim that its use was justified since it was not specifically mentioned in any treaties, no matter what the effect is on civilians. Firebombs, nukes, agent orange and now the predator drone.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The funny thing is, that many US military bases IN THE USA also have terribly high incidents of cancer etc..just look up the scandal going on in South Carolina at the Marine base, Camp Lajune?? Huge scandal and cover up by not only the US Marine Corp but also by the US government, all happening on US soil, to US citizens, so if the American government does not even care about its own citizens are we supposed to believe that they really care about poor Vietnamese?? Like Avenger says it must be about $$$$$$$!!!!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Yeah, they will need to come clean in the countries they want to do business in

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is very, very shameful, but I guess as that guy says, better late than never to start cleaning up this horrible mess.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

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