More soil sampling for Agent Orange 1

From left: Nathan Leu from Weston Solutions Inc. and Amanda Wagner, from the same company, take soil samples with assistance from Brain Moyer, a veterans advocate and founder of Agent Orange Survivors of Guam. Guam Environmental Protection Agency contributed photo

Local and federal authorities performed additional soil sampling for Agent Orange contamination on Wednesday and Thursday, this time with assistance from Agent Orange Survivors of Guam founder Brian Moyer, who arrived on island on Monday. 

Officials from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. EPA Superfund Technical Assessment & Response Team took part in the sampling, which occurred at Polaris Point off of Route 1, Nimitz Hill, Yigo and Tiyan. Sampling was completed on Thursday.

"Off-base soil sampling for Agent Orange first occurred in November 2018, at areas off of NCS road along Route 3, Potts Junction, Nimitz Hill and a pipe line tie-in located in Tiyan. Guam EPA, US EPA and Moyer agreed to schedule Moyer’s visit to Guam to assist with future soil samplings," according to a press release from Guam EPA. 

Preliminary results from last year's sampling indicated the presence of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, the components of the herbicide Agent Orange, at non toxic levels in one sample location. A draft report is still under review with Guam EPA and will be released once completed, according to the agency. 

Unlike the November 2018 sampling, the samples taken this week will be tested for dioxins, which are highly toxic and cause a variety of illnesses. Preliminary analysis on these samples is expected to be completed within 12 weeks. 

Moyer has been a vocal advocate of recognizing herbicide exposure for veterans who served on Guam during the Vietnam War, when Agent Orange was utilized. His travel and lodging was privately funded by the Military Veterans Advocacy, Agent Orange Survivors of Guam and the Blue Water Navy Association. 

Moyer offered to assist with identifying sites for the joint agency investigation into the alleged use of Agent Orange on Guam, which many veterans have claimed and the federal government has denied. 

These claims have floated for years but were reinvigorated by a news story on the late Master Sgt. Leroy Foster, who claimed that he had sprayed Agent Orange on Guam. 

Renewed interest ultimately led to the soil sampling initiatives above as well as a U.S. Government Accountability Office investigation into the matter. 

The GAO found that at least one ship carrying Agent Orange stopped at Apra Harbor en route to Vietnam more than 50 years ago, but there is no evidence indicating Agent Orange was offloaded on Guam.

However, the GAO also pointed to draft environmental assessments written in 1999 and 2009 indicating herbicides containing 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T were used for weed control along power lines and substations through 1980. The 2,4,5-T also contained 2,3,7,8-TCDD, which refers to the type of dioxin created in the manufacturing process for 2,4,5-T. 

The herbicide 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid or 2,4,5-T has been banned from use in the United States since 1985.  

The sampling continues regardless of the GAO report. 

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