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By Mark-Alexander Pieper

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 25) – After acknowledging that Agent Orange and other dioxins used by the military in previous wars have caused a litany of health problems for veterans and civilians, Congress has introduced a bill to investigate the effects of biological warfare from the Cold War era and local lawmakers want to make sure Guam is included.

Lawmakers yesterday spent more than an hour discussing Speaker Mark Forbes' Resolution 138, which formally asks members of the U.S. House of Representatives to include Guam in the Veterans Right To Know Act.

The federal measure introduced last November would create an independent commission to investigate U.S. chemical or biological warfare tests or projects, especially those carried out between 1954 and 1973.

The study will try to determine if those actions contributed to health risks to any civilian or military personnel who participated in such a test or project or were otherwise potentially exposed to a biological or chemical agent. The commission would then report its findings and recommendations to Congress.

Sen. Benjamin Cruz, running mate of gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Carl Gutierrez, cited military reports that showed high levels of Agent Orange found in soil samples from Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo, which is right above Guam's northern aquifer – the island's primary source of fresh water.

Cruz, D-Piti, said it was vital that Guam be included in the study either by being provided money for the local government to form its own commission to conduct studies on island or for the congressional commission to include Guam in its study.

Cruz said it has already been shown that Type II Diabetes, which is prevalent on Guam, can be one of the effects of Agent Orange exposure.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR news files, 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, however, Phillips W. Grone, deputy undersecretary of the Department of Defense, claimed the herbicide was never used and was returned to the United States.]

Several local veterans have voiced their suspicion over the years that the U.S. military stored Agents Orange, White and Blue and other contaminants on Guam during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange and similar defoliants were sprayed extensively in Vietnam during that war to thin the jungles and make it easier for U.S. troops to advance. Since then, the chemicals have been linked to diabetes, cancer, lymphoma, birth defects and dozens of other diseases.

Agent Orange, a defoliant, was the code name of a mixture of the chemicals 2-4-5-T and 2-4-D. Agents Orange and White were used to improve road and waterway visibility and clear camp perimeters.

Agent White, a defoliant, is the code name of a mixture of 2-4-D and picolorum.

Agent Blue, a desiccant, is a mixture of nacacodylate and cacodylate, both compounds of arsenic. It was used to destroy crops and clear areas suspected of harboring enemy base camps or supply routes.

These chemicals have been associated with cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, birth defects, nervous system disorders, depression and dozens of other diseases.

The chemicals were named by the color of a stripe painted on the barrel they were stored in.

May 25, 2006

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