Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inter-Religious Group: Toxic impact 35 years after war's end

Aug. 29

Group assesses Agent Orange's impact 35 years after Vietnam War's end

A group of 10 inter-religious figures who visited Vietnam in late spring
said the toxic, corrosive effects of Agent Orange still jeopardize the
Vietnamese people 35 years after the war's end.

Traveling as the Agent Orange in Vietnam Information Initiative, the group
said money is still needed to clean up "hot spots" in Vietnam where
dioxin, the key ingredient in Agent Orange, persists in concentrations
hundreds of times what is thought to be the safe maximum. In Da Nang, site
of a U.S. airbase during the war, "the stench (from Agent Orange) was
burning to our nostrils," said the Rev. Carroll Baltimore, president of
the Progressive National Baptist Convention. "We had to purchase throwaway
shoes to protect us from being contaminated," he added, calling the
situation "overwhelming." Loretto Sister Maureen Fiedler, during an Aug.
26 conference call with reporters, recalled having seen dozens of children
whose disabilities were thought to be caused by Agent Orange, as dioxin is
believed to affect the genes of those who have ingested it. "Dozens and
dozens of them (children with disabilities). They were severely disabled.
While no one can specifically connect Agent Orange with a specific
disability, there is a correlation," said Sister Fiedler, host of the
syndicated "Interfaith Voices" radio show. Agent Orange was used by U.S.
forces in Vietnam between 1965 and 1970. A chemical defoliant, it was
sprayed from planes to eliminate ground cover for North Vietnamese
soldiers and to reduce reliance on subsistence crops.

(source: Catholic News Service))

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