On June 28, PBS will premiere an important documentary film on their Independent Lens series that all Oregonians should watch.
"The People vs. Agent Orange" will both remind and outrage viewers about the terrible impact Agent Orange made, and continues to make, on the health of the Vietnamese people. But the film's focus isn’t just on Vietnam.
Protest from the science community asserting that the U. S. military was perpetrating genocide finally pressured them to stop using Agent Orange in 1971. Not so here in Oregon, where the highly toxic chemical was used as a defoliant in the timber industry from 1969 to 1979 under the name Silvex.
The film tracks how Oregonians living in the Coast Range were harmed by the spraying of Silvex, and eventually banded together to stop its use in our state. It's a dramatic story of lawsuits, corporate malfeasance, personal courage, as well as great suffering and personal loss.
One of the main components of Agent Orange, 2,4-D, is still being sprayed in the forests of Oregon. The main ingredient 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T), containing the highly carcinogenic dioxin molecule, has been banned.
But dioxin is slow to break down. That raises the question of whether any precautions were taken to protect workers in the likely event that the contaminated areas have been reharvested.
What about dioxin being tested for in the groundwater and streams?