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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 11) – About 5,000 drums of herbicide Agent Purple were transported to the island of Guam and stored in an undisclosed area in 1952 in anticipation of use on the Korean peninsula, according to a defense official.

Phillips W. Grone, deputy undersecretary of the Department of Defense, claimed the herbicide was never used and was returned to the United States.

"The department has no record of the use, storage or testing of herbicides Orange, Blue or White on Guam," Grone stated in a Sept. 23, 2003 letter to Congressman Lane Evans, D-Il., a ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Evans has been actively involved in investigating the use of Vietnam-era herbicides and contaminant dioxins on Guam.

"Although other herbicides may have passed through Guam during the Vietnam conflict, we have no record of long term storage or use of these herbicides on Guam," Grone said Van Sanderson, who is researching the use, storage and disposal of dioxin herbs on Guam, said although Grone’s claim may "somewhat be accurate, it doesn’t explain things." "They say there is no record of use, storage or testing. Only testing would there be any records. Records of use, storage and disposal are only kept two years," Sanderson, now based in Texas, said in an email to Variety." I have talked to scientists about the amount of dioxin at Andersen Air Force Base (19,000ppm). I have been told there is too much of this toxic to be there unless we were disposing the herbs like Agent Orange and many others at the site," said Sanderson, who was involved in a military experiment in Cocos Island in 1966. Agents Orange and Purple are defoliants, which were later found contaminated with varying levels of tetrachlorodibenzodioxin, or TCDD, a dioxin that is a toxic and persistent substance. Military officials said these herbicides were never used as chemical warfare. Robert Celestial, president of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors, said there has been no official acknowledgement from the Pentagon on the use of herbicide on Guam. "We’ve heard about Agent Orange being stored on Guam. This is the first time that I’ve heard of Agent Purple on Guam," Celestial said.

[PIR editor’s note: See background story on herbicide use in the military.]

May 11, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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