Task force looking into PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange on Guam
Senators are launching a new investigative task force to delve into data surrounding possible pollutants used by the United States military on Guam. While stories have been told of the use of deadly contaminants by the armed forces on the island, there is little, if any, substantiated evidence illustrating just how much these pollutants may have been used throughout the island.
Amid recent testimony alleging the use of agent orange in Guam during the 1970's, Senator Fernando Esteves has launched an investigative task force to review and record reports of the use of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and Agent Orange on Guam.
"Specifically those three," he explained, "because those are the stories that have come forward, we do know and there is a federal probe currently on the PCB contamination at the Cocos Lagoon, and then Agent Orange, obviously these stories are coming out, and we've grown up hearing these stories, but they've never been substantiated, and then as well as hearing stories on DDT, which is commonly found in pesticides which were used as anti-mosquito and anti-rodent repellents around the bases."
Senator Esteves says aside from collecting data on the possible use of these pollutants locally, the task force also aims to identify any correlations the usage may have with health issues in the community. "We want to look into the effects, you know, Guam has such high cancer rates and that's why I brought in senator Louise, or Senator [Louise] Muna," he added.
Muna said, "It's kind of something people have been wanting to find out, could it have been from the Agent Orange or the other pesticides from back in the day that is causing this cancer and it's a question that just keeps coming up and then it disappears so I think people just want answers."
Senator Muna said she also hopes to investigate if there are differences in cancer rates between different parts of the island. If health effects do become apparent through this research, Esteves said he wants to hold the US government accountable. "There is precedence in which the United States government has taken responsibility and has taken appropriate actions to ensure that those that were affected get the treatment that they need," he said.
However before making a case to the feds, Esteves wants to ensure that there is substantiated evidence to back it up. "The end result I hope to potentially form a commission down the road and with appropriated funds that we could use to bring this battle forward and find justice for our people but it all starts with information," he said.
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