Author Topic: CDC to probe Maine troops' possible toxin exposure at CFB Gagetown  (Read 7054 times)

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Sylvain Chartrand CD

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CDC to probe Maine troops' possible toxin exposure at Canadian base

By Kevin Miller
Portland Press Herald
Published: July 25, 2012

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials have agreed to investigate whether Maine soldiers were exposed to potentially toxic herbicides – including Agent Orange – while training at a Canadian base during the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s.

In a letter to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pledged to “conduct a thorough investigation of the situation” at the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, where herbicides and defoliants have been used for decades.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said staff have requested documents and reports to look into the possibility that Maine veterans were exposed to harmful chemicals.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) share your concerns about the health of our military veterans and this situation in particular,” Frieden wrote.

Frieden was responding to a June 2012 letter from Collins in which the senator urged the ATSDR to conduct a detailed analysis of the potential health risks for Mainers who trained in Gagetown.

Although Agent Orange – a Vietnam War-era defoliant that causes cancer and severe health problems – was only used for several days at Gagetown in the 1960s, the base continued to use other herbicides and defoliants that have been linked to health problems.

Concerns over troop exposure to potentially toxic herbicides at the Gagetown base are not new. The Canadian government investigated the issue years ago and subsequently agreed to compensate some soldiers who were sickened due to exposure to Agent Orange. Maine officials have also been involved in the issue since at least 2005.

For instance, in an August 2006 “information paper” on the issue, the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management expressed concerns about the “bigger issue” of Maine National Guard troops’ exposure to herbicides other than Agent Orange that were used for decades.

Although those chemicals were approved for use as herbicides by Canadian government, that fact does not negate the reality that the nature of military training could increase the risk of exposure, the paper’s authors wrote.

“Maine National Guard soldiers dug foxholes, low crawled, slept in pup tents, and lived in some of these areas for up to 12 days at a time,” the paper stated. “Guard engineers graded roads where herbicides were used to keep brush growth down on the edge of the road; cleared brush out of and constructed bivouac sites; and conducted demolition and engineer missions all over CFB Gagetown. Artillerymen fired thousands of rounds into the impact areas and the detonation of those rounds put those chemicals back into the air to be dispersed wherever the wind took them.”

Collins said today she was pleased with the CDC’s decision to look into the matter.

"Protecting the health of those who were training to protect us is a solemn responsibility from which we must not walk away,” Collins said in a statement.


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CDC investigating claims U.S. soldiers were exposed to Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown

Thursday, July 26, 2012 3:02 PM

PORTLAND, Maine - The Centers for Disease Control will investigate whether Maine soldiers were exposed to dangerous chemicals, including Agent Orange, while training at a military base in New Brunswick.

The head of the agency, Dr. Thomas Frieden, made the promise in a letter to U.S. Senator Susan Collins.

MaineToday Media says more than 100 former National Guard soldiers from the state have sought disability benefits for health problems believed linked to their training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.

The Department of Veteran Affairs rejected the claims because there's no evidence that Agent Orange, a Vietnam War-era chemical defoliant, was used during the time thousands of Maine soldiers trained at the base.

The Canadian government agreed in 2007 to make $20,000 payments to hundreds of Canadian veterans and their families who served at Gagetown and later became ill after being exposed to Agent Orange in the 1960s.
© Global News. A division of Shaw Media Inc., 2012.

Read it on Global News: CDC investigating claims U.S. soldiers were exposed to Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown

Sylvain Chartrand CD

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Maine veterans discouraged: Study says no risks from Agent Orange exposure

    Gagetown Agent Orange
    March 18, 2013
    By: Nannette Richford

Thousands of Maine veterans who trained in Gagetown, New Brunswick with the Maine National Guard between 1971 and 2006 were disappointed with the new federal report that claims there were no health risks associated with their exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides during their station in Gagetown, reports WABI TV on March 18.

Although more than 100 soldiers have filed claims for health issues they believe stem from their exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Gagetown, all have been unsuccessful.

The Center for Disease Control agrees with the finding of the Canadian study, says WABI TV

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s, Canadian officials sprayed the Gagetown fields with Agent Orange and other herbicides to control the vegetation in the area, says the Portland Press Herald

    "Government reports may state there was little to no risk in training at Gagetown, but I know a lot of Maine veterans strongly disagree and some continue to suffer from diseases associated with herbicide exposure," U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, told the Portland Press Herald. "While the recent CDC report reviews the soil and the contaminants, there has not been anything that looks specifically at the veterans themselves.”

Soldiers, like Carroll Jandreau from Ft. Kent, Maine, who served time in Gagetown with the Maine National Guard, says they were warned not to drink the water or eat the vegetation in Gagetown, but soldiers were not advised of their exposure to Agent Orange.

    "A lot of the guys that went there and a lot of the people I knew died from kidney cancer," Jandreau told the Portland Press Herald.