The Guam Environmental Protection Agency has started the process to test for traces of the chemical defoliant known as Agent Orange around the island. Retired veteran Leroy Foster, a Florida resident, claimed he sprayed hundreds of thousands of gallons of the herbicide while stationed at Andersen Air Force Base.
Agent Orange was one of the “rainbow herbicides” used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Post news files state that it was also used to clear the perimeters of military bases to give service members a clear line of fire.
Veterans stationed in Guam, including Foster, have testified in several forums that they spread Agent Orange in military facilities and defense properties in Guam including tank farms, a cross-island pipe line, pump houses, hydrant pits and filtering systems at the air base, files state.
Foster said he has 33 diseases and multiple cancers as a result of his exposure to the herbicide. The concerns have gained the attention of several government leaders including Senior Deputy Majority Whip Dennis A. Ross, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and Gov. Eddie Calvo.
“I am closely monitoring the federal response to this matter. In consideration of the statements made by veterans regarding the spraying of this chemical on Guam, I have justifiable concern about the residual effects this chemical may have on our environment, particularly our aquifer and drinking water sources,” Calvo stated in the letter to Guam Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Walter Leon Guerrero.
Calvo directed Guam EPA to conduct a full battery of tests on the island’s drinking water sources and soils for contaminants in the areas where Agent Orange was reportedly sprayed, and seek the assistance of local and federal entities as necessary.
Leon Guerrero confirmed the agency has started discussion with USEPA's Region 9 Emergency Response Team, who have worked with a Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team (START).
START is experienced in removal and abatement of dioxins with respect to sites historically known to be affected by the sprayed application of herbicides.
Standard practices of quality assurance and quality control, as prescribed by USEPA, will take place with each and every sample being tested and measured for dioxins associated with rainbow herbicides, Leon Guerrero said.
Bordallo also committed to ensuring that veterans exposed to Agent Orange receive the proper treatment and help they need.