By Nick Bower
Nearly 38 years have passed since the United States pulled out of the Vietnam War and therefore stopped using Agent Orange. Since then, the United States government has made strides to make amends for the impact it caused, but it has not taken full blame responsibility for dispensing Agent Orange and its toxic contaminant dioxin, causing long-lasting effects on both the Vietnamese and our own veterans. Recent actions on this issue include:
- On March 9, the United States government released a report titled, “Investigations into Allegations of Herbicide Orange in Okinawa, Japan.” The report concludes that Agent Orange was never in shipped to, used, or buried in Okinawa. However, there was no indication of any interviews with veterans stationed in Okinawa who have alleged they were exposed to Agent Orange. So, while government officials showed that they were willing to hand over documents regarding Agent Orange, this report just so happened to be favorable to the United States, and since the report didn’t include any interviews with veterans, questions still remain.
- The House of Representatives is currently considering a bill called the “Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.” If passed, the act would allow naval personnel who served in the war to start receiving Agent Orange benefits that used to be reserved only for those who were in land-based operations and most likely to have had direct contact with the toxic chemicals. Passing this bill would go a long way in proving that our government has not forgotten about some of our veterans who may still suffer from the effects of Agent Orange.
- On February 19, the United States government allocated $36.8 million to extract thermal radiation of dioxin. Teaming up with a company called TerraTherm Inc., the cleanup will focus around a military base. TerraTherm will place a treatment structure over the contaminated soil until it destroys it through heat. After a couple months, they then can go in and treat the soil.