2011 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lennysiegel@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2011 14:50:35 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] HERBICIDES: Agent Orange in Vietnam
War and the Tragedy of the Commons (Part 3)

by H. Patricia Hynes
August 11, 2011

As long as Agent Orange is not addressed, along with the reparations that the US agreed to offer the Vietnamese, the Indochina War cannot be considered over. Rather, it entered a different phase, a phase without artillery and gunshots, but a phase in which millions continue to suffer and die in agony.

During the ten years (1961-1971) of aerial chemical warfare in Vietnam, US warplanes sprayed more than 20 million gallons of herbicide defoliants in an operation code-named Ranch Hand. Agent Orange, the dioxin-contaminated and exceedingly toxic herbicide manufactured by a handful of chemical companies for the US Department of Defense, constituted about 61 percent of the total herbicides sprayed in the war.(1) The particular dioxin found in Agent Orange (TCDD) is the one of the most toxic environmental contaminants, found to cause cancer, birth defects and disruptions to the immune and endocrine systems.

A late 1980s investigation by Adm. Elmo Zumwait, former commander of the US Navy in Vietnam and father of a naval officer who died following exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, unearthed evidence that the US military had knowingly augmented the defoliant's toxicity by spraying "Agent Orange in concentrations six to 25 times the suggested rate." Other investigations of court and National Archives documents have uncovered that the Agent Orange manufacturer Dow Chemical Company knew as early as 1965 that the dioxin contaminant in the defoliant was "one of the most toxic materials known ..." and that, as early as 1957, the company knew that dioxin could be eliminated by lowering the temperature and slowing the manufacturing process. But eliminating dioxin would delay production and reduce company profits when wartime production called for rapid, high- quantity manufacture.


For the entire article, see


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope Street, Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650-961-8918 or 650-969-1545
Fax: 650-961-8918

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