Friday, June 15, 2007

Agent Orange

While the USA had taken such a moral superiority about how Saddam had used chemical weapons , they had conveniently forgotten their own use of such weapons in Vietnam .

This report is an apt reminder .

30 years after the Vietnam War ended, the poisonous legacy of Agent Orange has emerged anew with a scientific study that has found extraordinarily high levels of health-threatening contamination at the former U.S. air base at Danang. Soil tests found levels of dioxin, the highly toxic chemical compound in Agent Orange, that were 300 to 400 times higher than internationally accepted limits.

"They're the highest levels I've ever seen in my life," said Thomas Boivin, the scientist who conducted the tests this spring. "If this site were in the U.S. or Canada, it would require significant studies and immediate cleanup."

Blood tests found elevated dioxin levels in several dozen people who regularly fished or harvested lotus flowers from a contaminated lake on the site. Tests also confirmed that rainwater has carried dioxin into city drains and into parts of a neighboring community that is home to more than 100,000 people .

The Human Cost

Vietnam says up to 3 million of its 84 million people have birth defects or other health problems related to dioxin.

Nguyen Van Dung, 38, and his family have lived just outside the air base since 1990. Dung used to bring home fish he caught in Lotus Lake.At about age 2, his daughter began manifesting grotesque health problems. Now 7, Nguyen Thi Kieu Nhung's shin bones curve sharply and appear to be broken in several places, as though smashed with a hammer. Her right shoulder bone protrudes unnaturally, stretching her skin. She has only two teeth, her right eye bulges from its socket and she has sores on her face. She can't walk; she can only slide around on her rear end. When her mother, Luu Thi Thu, changes her daughter's shirt, Nhung screams in pain.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Lieu, grew up next to the base and used to enter it regularly to get candy from the U.S. troops. The family fished in Lotus Lake and drank water from a nearby well.
Now her daughter , Nguyen Thi Trang Ngan, 17 , can't speak, sit up, walk, feed herself or get dressed. She makes strange, uncontrolled grunting sounds and sucks her thumb.

"War always brings suffering," her mother said. "I don't blame anyone for it. This is my fate."

I am afraid i cannot share this woman's acceptance of her situation . There is blame to be placed . War brings suffering , but who brings war - Politicians and business magnets to satisfy end of the year share-holder reports .

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