Ben Stocking of the Associated Press has written a story and released it today concerning high levels of dioxin, the active catalyst in Agent Orange at Da Nang Airport, the home of a former U.S. Air Force base that was the main storage area in the country for that herbicide. He also says that two other areas in the country that housed U.S. Air Force bases Phu Cat and Bien Hoa, also have unacceptably high levels of the chemical in the soil and sediment. The article is here.
Agent Orange has caused death and destruction everywhere as any person living since 1970 knows who can read English at the fourth grade level. We have untold numbers of Viet Nam veterans of many nations who have suffered from it as well as had children with birth defects because of it. The Viet Namese have suffered horribly from this also in premature cancer in statistically high numbers among the population and with children born with weird birth defects.
So what is the lesson here? I don’t know. But I would guess that there just has to be one.
As we move forward month after month with one "discovery" after another in our weapons research and our government funded university research labratories we seem to have no "ethics board" like they have at hospitals to act as a check and balance system on the raw science that is taking place in the building. Even a rural hospital in the most inaccessible spot in our country will have an ethics board to regulate what can and cannot be done "to" or "for" a person who is in pain, dying or terribly sick. They act as a brake on "science" to keep the entire situation within humane limits. At least, that is the general idea.
Why don’t we have a sitting ethics board at all government funded labratories working on weapons research, development and deployment to do the same thing as the ethics boards in the local hospitals in your town? If ethics boards existed when we decided to unleash the horrors of Agent Orange on untold millions of enemy and friendly troops and surrounding areas where they were situated maybe we would not need to worry about poisoning the people around Da Nang airport today.
Just a thought.
CWO3 Tom Barnes, USCG (Ret.)