Yesterday the Vietnamese victims of agent orange/dioxin appealed a 2005 ruling which denied them class action status (233page PDF of the opinion) VVAO vs. Dow etc. in which the defendants used the "government contractor defense."
Never mind that
"The initial government criteria for defoliation agents stated that the selected agent should "be safe to handle while in storage, shipment or operation . . . [and] . . . should not be injurious to the health of man and animals who come in contact with it during and after military applications."
Never mind that as early as 1954 there were questions being raised regarding the toxicity of dioxin and that
In February 1964, at Dow’s plant in Midland, Michigan, more than 40 workers developed chloracne, some quite severe, due to the presence of dioxin. Dow believed at the time that extreme exposure to dioxin could result in "general organ toxicity," as well as "psychopathological," and "other systemic problems." A58 (FAC ¶106). As a result of this experience with chloracne, Dow decided to explicitly inform the other defendants of its experiences and knowledge, going back to the 1940s. It organized a meeting in Midland, Michigan in March, 1965, at which it shared all this information with the other defendants.
Never mind that,
As the government asked the chemical companies to produce more and more herbicide as the war escalated, whatever quality control that may have existed became non-existent. With greater demand, the companies in effect sped up their production line, which led to higher temperatures and pressure in the production process. Defendants knew from the experiences of Boehringer and another German company, Badische, that higher temperatures and pressure lead to greater dioxin content. After Boehringer shut down its plant in the 1950’s due to dioxin contamination, it discovered why dioxin was formed and how to avoid it. The company later reopened its plant and managed to keep dioxin levels at a reasonably low level. This new process involved keeping an upper temperature limit of between 150 and 155 degrees Centigrade. In Boehringer’s system, an alarm would go off when the temperature rose above 157 degrees. This meant that the reaction to form TCP (when dioxin is normally produced) took 12 to 13 hours, much longer than with higher temperatures. Boehringer shared this information with the chemical companies in 1957, after it had experienced a measure of success in avoiding dioxin formation. ...Though defendants knew in the 1950s that decreasing temperature in the autoclave reaction would greatly lower levels of dioxin in their 2,4,5-T, they intentionally and deliberately failed to follow these precautions.
Dow’s reaction temperature during the early 1960s ran as high as 212 to 225 degrees, nowhere near the safe level of 150 degrees, and the reaction took only 45 minutes. ...The reason for this was that lowering the temperature of the reaction and therefore slowing down the process would have cost more and taken longer.
They FUCKING knew. They helped write the specifications and they knew it was contaminated. They knew how to control the contamination but that would have cut into their profits.
They FUCKING knew.
The United States maintains there is no scientifically proven link between the wartime spraying and the more than three million people Vietnam says are disabled by dioxin over three generations.
We (VFP chapter 72) did an information picket at the federal courthouse in Portland in support of the VVAO's appeal. Part of it was a set of pictures of AO victims. In preparing this display, it was my job to download and print the pictures. It was all I could do to not puke seeing the devastating effects AO had on the Vietnamese. Just google "Agent orange victims" images, I won't post any here. Of interest is there were a set of pictures ofROK vets who were also victims of AO.
In 2006, the Seoul High Court ruled two US makers, the Dow Chemical and the Monsanto, to pay more than 63 million USD to 6,800 Korean AO/dioxin victims and their relatives.
They FUCKING knew.