Photograph by watashiwani
If you are a veteran that served in Okinawa, you might have heard the news that barrels containing the dioxin residue were found buried in a soccer field on land that once was part of the Kadena Air Base.
I doubt that news comes as a shock. After all, journalist Jon Mitchell has interviewed hundreds of U.S. veterans who saw the herbicide being used, stored and transported in Okinawa. You can read this journalist’s reporting here
Here’s another non-shocking revelation: The U.S. isn’t going to admit it. The U.S. military’s hired gun chimed in immediately with an opinion that these barrels that independent University testing showed were positively dripping with dioxin — were anything but Agent Orange. The Stars and Stripes ran what amounts to an op-ed piece by Alvin Young, a long-time Department of Defense consultant on Agent Orange.Mr. Young isn’t only paid by Uncle Sam to speak, Monsanto and Dow Chemical Company have also cut the man checks.
So with those grains of salt, let us consider his opinion: Mr. Young states that the independent testing might be inaccurate. His reason? Because there was once an inaccurate test that occurred decades ago involving totally different circumstances. That’s baloney. Baloney seasoned with $$ and cynicism.
The Starts and Stripes did not present both sides of the story, but I will: Here’s the wrong side.
The Japan Times, which has been on the forefront of this investigation of the discovery of the buried drums of herbicide, recently published a well-reasoned, well-researched rebuttal to Mr. Young’s paid testimony.
featured the analysis of Canadian environmental scientist Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk, who reviewed the independent testing of the Okinawa barrels and concluded that without a doubt they certainly contained poisonous dioxins:
The inescapable fact is that the U.S. military, on land then part of Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, disposed of “unknown” materials in drums containing 2,4,5-T , a wartime herbicide/defoliant, and the most toxic component of the dioxin family, TCDD, known to be associated with the manufacture of such herbicides. There have been other allegations of the disposal of U.S. military herbicides on Okinawa, these being in 2011 at Chatan and in 2012 at Futenma, as reported in The Japan Times and The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
So who do you believe? I believe the journalist and the scientist who aren’t being paid by Uncle Sam and Monsanto. Let’s hope the VA does the right thing and concedes, based not only upon the testimony of hundreds of witnesses, but also upon this physical proof that dioxins were buried in Okinawa, that these abominable chemicals were on Okinawa.
The only thing keeping veterans who served in Okinawa from benefiting from the same legal presumptions as veterans who served in Vietnam is politics. Not only U.S. politics, but Japanese politics. The VA is supposed to have the veteran’s interests in mind. Let’s hope the VA sticks up for them.
Then not only will U.S. veterans get the benefits they deserve, but the children who must attend those two schools on either side of those poisoned soccer fields might also be spared more exposure.