25 Jan 2017

Guam wants answers on Agent Orange allegations

3:36 pm on 25 January 2017

The Office of Guam's governor says allegations that the toxic chemical Agent Orange may have been used on Guam during the Vietnam War are very concerning.

A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52G-125-BW Stratofortress (s/n 59-2582) from the 72nd Strategic Wing (Provisional) waits beside the runway at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam (USA), 15 December 1972.

A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52G-125-BW Stratofortress (s/n 59-2582) from the 72nd Strategic Wing (Provisional) waits beside the runway at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam (USA), as another B-52 takes off for a bombing mission over North Vietnam during Operation Linebacker II on 15 December 1972. Photo: USAF

Governor Eddie Calvo has ordered Guam's Environmental Protection Agency to test for traces of the chemical after a US veteran told media he'd sprayed thousands of litres of the herbicide on the island during the war.

The governor's director of communications, Oyaol Ngirairikl said it was too early to say if any residue would pose a threat to public health.

"So, that's one of the things we're trying to find out - that if we do have it in Guam - what levels are they? and are those levels harmful? Over time, could even a reduced amount [of Agent Orange] cause harm to the community? I know that many people are worried about it."

Guam resident not surprised by reports

Guam resident Pascual Sablan said allegations that the US military sprayed Agent Orange on the island during the Vietnam War were not surprising.

Pascual Sablan said he believed the toxic chemical was used and that it still presents a danger to Guam's residents.

"I think Guam has the highest [level] of cancer per capita. Why are people dying, you know? Young people, old people, they're dying - most of it from cancer."

Mr Sablan said he felt angry at the US military, which still has a very strong presence on Guam.

The US military has said it had no record of Agent Orange being used on Guam.

Meanwhile, Guam's Environmental Protection Agency says its investigation is underway and it is treating the allegations with the utmost urgency.

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