Monday, August 4, 2008

Agent Orange in Panama

You served in Panama! Do you have a claim pending for illinesses caused by AO? appeal low rating, If Not, file/refile for exposure to AO in Panama... send all the Documentation you can find, including
references to these web sites and info there in. double check the illinesses that are presumed service connected for AO
This article is from the Global Pesticide Campaigner (Volume 09, Number 2), August 1999.
The complete issue is available. More about the Global Pesticide Campaigner.
News Note: Agent Orange in Panama

The Dallas Morning News recently reported that the U.S. military conducted secret tests of Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides in Panama in the 1960s and '70s, potentially exposing civilians and soldiers to highly dangerous chemicals. According to eyewitness accounts and documents, hundreds of barrels of Agent Orange were shipped to Panama during the Vietnam War to be tested in simulated tropical battlefield conditions of Southeast Asia. The chemical was a mixture of the herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T and also contained dioxin generated during formulation of 2,4,5-T. While the two herbicides break down in the environment rather quickly, dioxin is a highly persistent compound that remains in the environment for decades and can cause cancer, birth defects and other health and developmental problems.

The U.S. Southern Command, the operational authority in Panama, said it was not aware of any tests using Agent Orange that had taken place there. However, the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department acknowledged that use of Agent Orange or similar herbicides contributed to the deaths of at least three U.S. servicemen stationed in Panama in the 1960s and '70s. In testimony at a Veterans Affairs hearing regarding one of these cases, a former operations officer for herbicide research at the Army biological research and development laboratories in Maryland stated that "several hundred drums" of Agent Orange were shipped to Panama in the late 1960s.

For years, the Panamanian government has been trying to find proof that the U.S. used chemical weapons and herbicides there in an effort to obtain compensation for cleanup costs as well as possible damages. Panama is already seeking as much as US$500 million from the U.S. military in damages and cleanup costs related to thousands of acres used for weapons tests since World War II.

Sources: "Report: U.S. Exposed Many in Panama to Agent Orange," San Francisco Examiner, August 20, 1999.
"Report: Agent Orange in Panama," Associated Press, August 20, 1999.

Contact: PANNA.
Agent Orange tested secretly in Panama August 20, 1999
The US military tested Agent Orange and other herbicides by secretly spraying them in Panama at the height of the Vietnam War, according to the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Members of the U.S. military, as well as civilians, may have been exposed to the extremely toxic chemical. Though it says all reports are unproven, the military reportedly tested the chemical over Panama because its tropical forests are similar to those in Vietnam. In Vietnam, The US sprayed Agent Orange to rapidly kill the tropical forests in which they suspected Viet Cong guerillas were hiding. According to one American veteran, the military sprayed Agent Orange near populated areas in Panama, including a beach, a club, and a lake from which Panama City gets its drinking water. In addition to those who may have been exposed to the chemical in the '60s and '70s, an environmental sciences expert said Agent Orange could last in the soil for decades. Panama is already seeking up to $500 million from the US for cleanup, and they expect claims of personal damages as well. Some point out that the US did not know how dangerous Agent Orange could be for those exposed. The Veterans Administration now recognizes nine diseases and disorders to be linked to Agent Orange exposure.
Agent Orange Affects Soldiers' Health by John Lindsay-Poland

Chemical bomb shell on San Jose Island, Panama.

The United States conducted military tests with Agent Orange in Panama in the late 1960s, according to a former military officials and some veterans who now suffer from Agent Orange-related diseases. A veteran who has a medical claim before the Veterans Administration wrote to Panamá Update in June that he saw U.S. Special Forces drop Agent Orange onto Fort Sherman in 1969 or 1970 and "watched the jungle disappear over the next few days." An Army engineer whose duty it was to take water samples, he also found high levels of Agent Orange in the coral reefs on Pacific side of the canal. Lake Gatun, where he witnessed the spraying, spills out of the canal into the Pacific reefs.

He now suffers from peripheral neuropathy, a disease common to veterans exposed to Agent Orange. In addition, Pamela Jones, the widow of another Army veteran who served in Panama, was awarded benefits in February by the Veterans Administration because of her husband's exposure to Agent Orange in Panama in the early 1970s. At her benefits hearing, the government's former head of the Agent Orange litigation project, Charles Bartlett, testified that several hundred barrels of Agent Orange had been shipped to Panama in the mid-1960s for tests. He said that after the tests the barrels remained in Panama for use in controlling weeds. At least nine witnesses have confirmed that the military sprayed heavily with Agent Orange in an area of Fort Sherman known as the "drop zone" in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The "drop zone" is located not far from a popular beach, recreation center and sporting club on the shores of Lake Gatun. The revelation is important because it establishes that Southeast Asia was not the only place where the United States exposed soldiers, and perhaps others, to Agent Orange.

Until Jones won her claim, the Veterans Administration had institutionalized Agent Orange-related benefits for those who fought in Vietnam, and excluded others from consideration for such benefits. One of the veterans awarded benefits because of his exposure to Agent Orange was Joseph Oppedisano, who served with the Army in Panama in 1956-58. Although Oppedisano's documented exposure to Agent Orange occurred later, in Camp Drumm, New York, while in Panama he became very sick after training with chemical agents. On January 4, 1958, the entire island of Flamenco where he was stationed was defoliated, Oppedisano told Panamá Update. "We had about ten million fish die. They got stuck on the rocks and made a stink," he said. He thought it was a secret military test. He and other soldiers on the island became violently ill and were hospitalized. One of those soldiers, Israel Jewetz, testified that "the areas where we were barracked were sprayed with chemicals every day to control insect populations and prevent malaria and yellow fever outbreaks." Oppedisano developed hairy cell leukemia as a result of his exposures. The Dallas Morning News spoke to both the veteran and Ms. Jones, and published two stories on August 20 and 24 about the issue.

In the August 20 story, U.S. Southern Command spokesman Raul Duany said that if Agent Orange was sprayed, "it wouldn't pose a threat today because it should have dissipated by now." However, the dioxin contained in most Agent Orange - the toxin that causes disease - remains in the soil for decades. The retired officer who ordered the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam as a defoliant contradicted Duany's claim. "It does not dissipate," said Admiral Elmo R. Zumwault, Jr. "If it's true that Agent Orange was tested in Panama, it is clear that the spokesman was wrong about the residual stuff."

Pesticides May Be Affecting Health
New information is also emerging about the heavy use of other kinds of pesticides in military bases in Panama besides Agent Orange, such as DDT and Chlordane, which were sprayed in residential areas of the Canal Zone, often daily, against termites. Both pesticides are banned in the United States. According to a preliminary study commissioned by Panama, "Though there is not enough data to establish a concise exposure scenario, there are plenty of indicators that demonstrate a significant human health hazard exists." The study, which took samples from Corozal and Clayton, concluded that "DDT, DDD, and DDE were all found in high quantities" on the two bases. But the United States has not given Panama information on the application rates of these pesticides, according to a consultant for the Panamanian government. This is forcing Panama to consider health studies that can demonstrate the ill effects of the pesticides on surrounding populations. An employee of Lockheed-Martin, which has been under contract to the Defense Department since 1996 to haul out toxic wastes from Panama, reported receiving a broad range of wastes.

"We were handling cyanides, asbestos, poisons, known carcinogens, herbicides, pesticides," said Alfredo Smith, a supervisor at the Lockheed warehouse on Corozal base in Panama. "Some of this stuff had labels going back to the 1950s." Smith told The Dallas Morning News that a Panamanian working under him began coughing up blood one day, after handling an unmarked barrel filled with a chemical powder. Smith himself experiences headaches, rashes, and other problems, and is suing Lockheed-Martin for lax safety procedures. Press reports on chemicals used in the canal area have stimulated a number of memories about problems in the past. Former Canal Zone resident Don DeStaffino remembered a 10- or 12-year-old Panamanian child who died in the 1970s "in a jungle area of Howard AFB/Ft.Kobbe... The substance with which he came in contact that caused his death was in a 55 gallon barrel. I believe it was a yellow color, and a gel rather than a powder. I think the substance was claimed by the Air Force as a paint remover."

Sources: Interview with Joseph Oppedisano, 9/6/99;
brief supporting Oppedisano appeal to Board of Veterans Appeals, 9/21/92;
"Exposure Scenario Characterization for Human Health Risk Assessment due to Pesticide Contamination in the Canal Area," September 2, 1999;
Dallas Morning News 8/20; 8/24; 10/11/99;
Stars and Stripes 9/12/99;
e-mails to FOR by veteran, 6/99;
Don DeStaffino communication 10/12/99.

From: [] On Behalf Of jerry johnson
Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2008 5:57 PM
Subject: Re: [VeteranIssues] FW: FYI - Exposure to Herbicides in Thailand is Conceded‏

Col Dan,
I get a lot of traffic concerning agent orange but I never hear anything about Panama. In 1977 we used to have jungle operation manuevers in the Rio Hato training area as well as other JOTC operations in the atlantic area near and around Fort Sherman and Gulick. I have personally witnessed the chemical defoliant browning process in clearing some of those areas when we were out and now have a strong curious intuition that what I may have witnessed could have been Agent Orange in use. Do you know or have heard of anything concerning the use of Agent Orange in Panama? It seems that it was in use at almost all overseas assignment where there is a thick canope jungle foliage, so why not Panama!

Oh Yeah!, Thanks for putting out that info on Hep C. I am a HepC Vet. I have only 2/3rds of a good liver left and suffer the extreme effects of this illness, in addition to diabetes, chronic high blood, gastro problems, anorexia, and much more. Most times I can only have a liquid diet because I have no appetite. In 2002 when the sickness struct me hard is the time when I found out. I was working for DoD, as a civilian in Bosnia in support of our troops in the field, and had to resign my job because of the disease and a 1 year Inteferon treatment, which failed because it had incubated in my system too long, over thirty years, since 1977 when I was in Panama. The military doctors knew but they never told me, nothing period. But, believe it or not, it is actually indicated in writing in my military medical records as Non A-B Hepatitis, with dates and discussions between different med corps staff divisions, but never with me. I served in the army from 71-73 and from 1976 to 1996, over 20 years total, not to count my civil service and to have this happen to me now is unbelievable. I have been stuck at home every since. Social Security came through within ten months of me filing, but the Pittsburgh VA...............after waiting six years and winning a BVA at Wash, DC in March, the Pittsburgh VRO, two weeks ago, only rated me at 10%. Buy Social Security standards I'm disabled and homebound for the same illness that the VA just granted to me as being service connected at 10%. I know, nothing never sounds right when you're dealing with those guys. I live in germany so all vet services from here goes through their RO as the local. I was a professional soldier and fighting is what I do, when I have to, with justice and honor fueling the machine. So I'm still fighting. Anyway, thanks for letting me vent that, also for you're dedication to your informative web group, and for that info on Hep C. I have already forwarded to my e-list, and now trying to find the DVD for a better view of the film to show my wife and children.


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Anonymous said...

when i was in panama i was realy sick do to hebacides had to have my tonssils out and 8 day stay on the other side of canal to get detoxified
rashes that skin docs never seen befor chlonce/ as acne ect records said i need permission from the say atorneys off to get the hospital reports,never got them .
soon i will make a claim for herbacide exsposer .i also of 3 kinds of heart deseases,i was there during the treaty protecting the canal in 77-79

Panamakwj said...

KJ I also was stationed at Fort Clayton, Panama from 1972 to 1974. I also witnesses the regular spraying for mosquitos, termites and cutter ants. I also witnessed the "dead jungle" which I found was very strange. My MOS was 11c10 81MM Motar Firer. We stayed in the jungle. The spraying of herbicides/pesticidescontinued and the witnessing of the dead jungle was a regular. In 2014 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was diagnosed as aggressive with the highest level possible. In 2015 I had a radical prostectomy; my prostate was removed and the surrounding lymph nodes to the extent possible through surgery. I still have prostate cancer that now has spread to the bladder and I am being treated for that at present. There is no history on my mothers or fathers side of cancer. I feel that we were subject to agent orange and other unknown chemicals. We need to work diligently together to get Panama on the accepted list of Agent Orange locations.IF you were there between 1968 and 1975 and witnesses any of the same please help to set thr records stright.

Unknown said...

My name is Israel Ramirez and stationed at Panama Canal Zone for a period of two (years). My first duty station was at Summit Hills Transmitter Facilities. I will not go into the specifics of what went on there, but it was a base in the jungles of Panama and it included a housing area of about 15 units for families and a three (3) story Barracks for Navy personnel both male and female and about a 30 man Marine Corp Detachment which did the Perimeter protection of the very small base.

During my stay at the base from November 1974 to February 1976 our base was constantly sprayed aerosols to control bugs and flying insects, I also observed gardeners liquid spraying the jungle overgrows since it constantly rained torrentially and this kept the jungle growth at bay.

One side of our base was right on the the Panama Canal and I remember getting on top of the Barracks roof with other sailors and watch the military war games going on their with explosions, tracer bullets, smoke or some type of fumes which at times the wind would bring over to our side of the Canal and envelope all our base. I remember a friend that constantly had skin erruptions and the the Medics or Doctors at Gorgas hospital were unable to diagnose it. I still remember his name. I remember the smoke had a very acrid or sweet smell. We hiked quite a bit in the jungle and besides observing Bushmasters and some wildlife, there were also some areas where parts of the jungle were brown dead. Our Base was in the area of the Canal Zone Summit Hills Zoo and close to Gatun Lake and the Golf Club. Presently I am suffering from some Respiratory ailments, some peripheral burning and pain of my feet and am pre diabetic. Starting to suspect that some of these are due to my being stationed in that area. Any additional info please let me know.