Friday, June 24, 2005

Chemical cover-up

A lot of folks in the vicinity of CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick are dying or already dead from a toxic rainbow of herbicide sprays, and the military is looking for plausible deniability. Agents Orange, White and Purple were deployed in reportedly massive quantities in the 1960s, with the consequences we would now expect: 170 soldiers in the Black Watch regiment at Gagetown died of cancer, many of them at a young age; civilians working on the base, and their families, have suffered likewise. Sarnia redux, by the sound of things.

A military spokesperson claims that the use of these deadly chemicals was limited and carefully controlled. But the news item noted that the chemicals at the time were considered harmless to human health, so why the controls? In fact, many of those who worked on the base at the time recall being soaked with the stuff. Clearing out sprayed bush, recalls one worker. "We cut it, we ingested the fumes, we burned it, therefore we inhaled the smoke ... and when it came time to eat, we sat down among all the toxins and we ate lunch with our bare hands."

Another, recalling that the spraying had gone on for years from fixed-wing aircraft, said "[The] first few times that we were out there, we came in, we were coloured orange, we were coloured yellow from the spray that came down on top of us." Both have cancer today.

A former Black Watch member recalls that soldiers "were out in the exercise area and the planes flew over spraying and they were told to just put ponchos over their head, that it wouldn't hurt them," Graves said. Duck and cover all over again. Which is, it seems, the current military strategy as well.

No comments: