Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) says that the Government Accountability Office remains on track with the Agent Orange investigation that he requested in April.
Responding to constituent concern about exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant widely used by the U.S. in the Vietnam War, Sablan enlisted GAO to report on any possible contamination in the Marianas.
He made the request together with Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida), who are also concerned that the toxic chemical may have affected people they represent.
“We want to know where the U.S. stored, transferred, and used Agent Orange or its component chemicals and of any contamination of those sites that may have occurred or may be occurring,” Sablan said. “The U.S. has already acknowledged that anyone exposed to this toxic herbicide can be presumed to have long-term health risks.
“If there was any Agent Orange in the Marianas, we need to know about it. Our Vietnam-era veterans and other military personnel and civilians deserve to have certainty about this concern and to get the help that they are entitled to, if they were exposed.”
Last Friday, in a communication to Sablan GAO affirmed its commitment to examine issues related to Agent Orange, including where it was located and its health and environmental risks.
GAO said it expects the review to be completed by spring 2018.
Over 11 million gallons of Agent Orange were used in the Vietnam war, but the defoliant was also used in Korea along the demilitarized zone and at military facilities in the U.S. and other countries. Air Force and Air Force Reserve members who worked around C-123 aircraft may also have been exposed. The C-123 was used to transport Agent Orange and for aerial spraying of the herbicide.
According to the Veterans Administration, there is a legal presumption that “certain diseases are a result of exposure to these herbicides. This ‘presumptive policy’ simplifies the process for receiving compensation for these diseases since VA foregoes the normal requirements of proving that an illness began during or was worsened by military service.” (PR)