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US Is Finally Cleaning Up Agent Orange In Vietnam 277

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-gonna-need-a-bigger-mop dept.
derekmead writes "It only took 40 years. And yes, Washington still disputes Hanoi's claim that up to 4 million Vietnamese suffered contact with the defoliant, which was dumped en masse in a U.S. air campaign to scorch away the dense jungle cover under which guerilla fighters hid. But the AP reports that the U.S. is finally set to start cleaning up the mess. The numbers are staggering: Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed some 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and a galaxy of other herbicides on nearly a quarter of former South Vietnam. The defoliant ate through about 5 millions acres – a tract comparable in size to Massachusetts – of forest. An additional half-million acres of crops were decimated."
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US Is Finally Cleaning Up Agent Orange In Vietnam

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:04PM (#40926669)

    I would think that the clean up was a pre-requisite to the large resort chains going in and buying up the beach front...I hear it's beautiful there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slashmydots (2189826)
      yeah, cuz people LOVE jungles and snakes and 120F + 99% humidity and bugs and everything trying to eat you and unfriendly natives and polluted water.
    • No, you are not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @02:36AM (#40928041) Journal

      Vietnam is opening up to foreign investors, and the United States is increasingly in competition against the Chinese in the influence game in South East Asia

      While the Vietnamese communist government may want to get on the side of the US to counter the red China, most people of Vietnam just do not trust Uncle Sam

      What took place in the village of My Lai and the Gulf of Tonkin incident have burned into the brains of many Vietnamese

      BTW, the clean up of Agent Orange should not only be done in Vietnam, but also in Laos and Cambodia

      Too many deaths, sufferings, and deformations had resulted from the Agent Orange - and Uncle Sam must be man enough to acknowledge what they had done, and to amend the damages that they had caused
       

      • Re:No, you are not (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2012 @03:54AM (#40928451)

        ...most people of Vietnam just do not trust Uncle Sam

        That is the opposite of the impression I got when I travelled Vietnam for three weeks earlier this year. "We love Hillary and want to chop off the heads of the Chinese" to quote one guy I talked to. I have no impression that anyone holds any grudges because of the Vietnam war atleast in the younger population. China is seen as a big threat and USA / the west as the good guys.

        • by flyneye (84093)

          You sure it wasn't "We love the U.S. and want to chop off the head of Hillary and send it to the Chinese"? It really sounds more like a realistic context. Just sayin'...

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          I think you will find tourists are always welcome. It's like the Scissor Sisters; whatever town they visit they tell the crowd is their new hometown and everyone there is wonderful, even if it is Dagenham.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          I was in Thailand at the end of the Vietnam war, and the Thais were of the same opinion (of course, they were on our side during the war).

          That part of the world has a written history going back thousands of years, and for most of that history China was an agressive empire that repeatedly invaded Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, India, and anybody else they could reach. Vietnam may have a ten year history to hate us for, but they have thousands of years of history to hate the Chinese for.

          Plus, it wa

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Too many deaths, sufferings, and deformations had resulted from the Agent Orange - and Uncle Sam must be man enough to acknowledge what they had done, and to amend the damages that they had caused

        Agent Orange is not the only weapon that stays behind when the soldiers leave. The U.S. still refuses to sign any international agreements on not using landmines. In the next three decades mines are going to keep killing in Iraq.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The U.S. still refuses to sign any international agreements on not using landmines. In the next three decades mines are going to keep killing in Iraq.

          International agreements are rarely worth the paper they're written on- they're mostly just publicity. There are plenty of reasons why we haven't signed any of the proposed unilateral landmine treaties, but I doubt you're actually interested as to why. I will point out we already are phasing out most types of landmines in most situations. http://www.state.gov/t/pm/wra/c11735.htm
          I'll also mention we HAVE signed agreements regarding the use of landmines, among other weapons, and I'll also point out we're not

        • If I remember correctly, the US has committed itself to not using mines anywhere in the world other than the DMZ between North Korea and South Korea. There are 30,000 Marines stationed at the DMZ as a speed bump to any North Korean invasion. The Marines are supposed to get killed and force America to intervene on behalf of South Korea. As one might imagine, the DMZ is strewn with minefields, and the North Koreans are thought to have substantial tunnels under the entire damned mess. I think American policy i

      • Re:No, you are not (Score:4, Insightful)

        by FudRucker (866063) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @06:25AM (#40929239)
        I don't trust Uncle Sam either and I am a US Citizen born and raised right here, the US Gov has a record of criminal activity so big they would have to use a goddamn freight train to move it anywhere,

        you would have to be either crazy or retarded to trust the government
    • I hear it's beautiful there.

      KILGORE: "Well, why didn't you tell me that before? A good peak. There aren't any good peaks in this whole shitty country. It's all goddamn beach break."

      MIKE: "It's pretty hairy in there. It's Charlie's Point."

      KILGORE: "Charlie don't surf!"

  • Added a whole new dimension to the old tactic of slash and burn, didn't it?

  • That's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:20PM (#40926821)

    But what about our fathers who also had this shit sprayed on them and told to fuck off and die of cancer?

    • Re:That's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bogie (31020) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:39PM (#40926975) Journal

      Or their children who were born with birth defects...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Or their children who were born with birth defects...

        Exactly. It's a life-time battle just for a US Vietnam Vet to prove he was in the place he was in at the time this shit got sprayed on them, let alone get help for their children.

        I can't imagine slowly dying of cancer and know that their children are 2nd generation casualties of this shit. This goes for both sides of the battlefield.

      • Re:That's nice (Score:5, Interesting)

        by burningcpu (1234256) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:52AM (#40927867)

        My father served in Vietnam as a truck driver. The foliage on the sides of the roads were a main target for the agent orange deployments, and the truck drivers likely received a proportionally higher dose due to their continuing contact with the agent.

        He major inflammation of the heart 6 months after returning from Vietnam, and a series of heart attacks from Ischemic heart disease over the next few decades. He had a multitude of other illnesses that are typically associated with exposure.

        I was born with several birth defects. They are mostly manageable with medicine, but still, it sucked being 18 and having to take beta-blockers so my heart wouldn't tear itself to pieces.

        My Father's illnesses are under presumed status, meaning that all he had to demonstrate in order to receive benefits was that he was in Vietnam during the time period agent orange was deployed, and that he had a disease recognized to be caused by exposure. This recognition did not happen until a few years ago. He had spent the last 15 years in near poverty as he could no longer work due to the advanced heart disease, which required a quadruple bipass.

        The causality for my health issues is less defined, and I'm basically on my own for the treatment.

        Growing up dealing with this, and watching my Dad fight PTS and his illnesses made me very suspicious of the government at a young age. Sadly, all that insight has seemed to gain me is a disgust for the blind and ignorant patriotism most people I meet seem to display.

        • by houghi (78078)

          Sadly, all that insight has seemed to gain me is a disgust for the blind and ignorant patriotism most people I meet seem to display.

          So you rather would be blindly and with ignorance following the herd? I would not say "sadly", I would say "luckily" as it allowed you to form your own opinion.

        • by HuguesT (84078)

          I can only hope that today's ruler, through your father's and your own sacrifice, can realize the true cost of going to war, and stop it.

      • But what about our fathers who also had this shit sprayed on them and told to fuck off and die of cancer?

        Or their children who were born with birth defects...

        Add one more tally to this category - our family has had essentially the same exact story as the other folks are describing here...

    • by fermion (181285)
      My understanding is that they are well taken care of. Of course, the lawyers are sometimes better taken care of. The number of million dollar houses and children sent to ultraexpensive private colleges are amazing, but huge payments are also being made to veterans, even those that served only briefly. One of my colleagues was forced to retire early and one way he is making ends meet is through these payments.

      This may sound like very little, but there are stories of major site in which mining and indust

    • A large portion of the trouble was/is caused by dioxin contamination [agentorangerecord.com]. There was a lot of dioxin in the Agent Orange they were spraying and it's part of the legacy. There's no safe level for dioxin exposure.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:23PM (#40926855) Journal

    Created by responsible corporate citizens under the auspices of the Defense Production Act [wikipedia.org]

  • by Maow (620678) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @12:56AM (#40927535) Journal

    Interesting that US WMDs are still poisoning a country half a world away, whilst US forces are in another country, nearly half a world away (other direction) on a hunt for bogus WMDs.

    If I were cynical, I'd call that hypocritical.

    • by Sollord (888521)

      Agent orange isn't realistically considered a WMD since it the side effects from over exposure that can potentially be fatal compared to real WMDs like Nuclear weapons and Chemical (VX and Sarin) and Bio-Weapons (Anthrax) that are designed to do one thing and that is kill en mass

  • by Trax3001BBS (2368736) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @01:29AM (#40927737) Homepage Journal

    I was in Nam towards the end ('73) while in the Army, I was stationed at an abandoned
    Air Force hospital (flush toilets, hot water, Hooch's) - a Mash unit at Tuy Hoa.

    Apparently different companies "downsized" together into one. A conex that had
    been some groups bagage had been sitting alone outside of our hospital since I'd been there.

    Bored I poked through it one day. It was filled with stuff I couldn't explain then nor now. A lot
    of atropine self injectors (they make lousy darts), cases of them and new rubber suits.

    Imagine Dracula's cape with a hood, I wanted one for myself. It was made
    entirely out of a thick soft rubber, with it and other items I found, one could be
    completely covered and safe from nerve gas (my first impression).

    I haven't heard of anything thing that could justify such an outfit, except agent orange.
    If it were used in it's dispersion, Agent orange was seen as some nasty stuff
    by those who used to own that conex.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      The Ranch Hand guys didn't wear such things, but they should have had exposure suits or at least mask and gloves. A cape/poncho wouldn't have helped.

      Scroll down to the unfortunate Airman working without protective gear:

      http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/Operation-Ranch-Hand18oct97.htm [mindfully.org]

      Agent Orange doesn't have an antidote. (You can look up its components, 2 4-D, 2,4,5-T, online.)

      Atropine is specifically an antidote to either nerve agent or pesticides containing similar compounds. Those autoinjectors have bee

      • I'll back up couchslug on the idea that the capes were probably part of an early form of MOPP [wikipedia.org] gear. There are cape-style soviet designs [russianwarrior.com], maybe some of these were captured?

        Speaking of missing equipment, there should have been 2PAM-Chloride [nih.gov] autoinjectors as well, they ought to have been packaged together (at least, they are today when distributed to soldiers). I hear that that the 2PAM vials get abused by snipers as muscle relaxants, though, so they may have walked away some time before your inspection...

  • The Vietnamese are our best chances of obtaining access to the oil reserves in the South China Sea. And they need us to keep it out of Chinese hands. It won't be long before Vietnam is a regular port of call for the US Navy.

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

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