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Natural Resources Minister calls for national probe of Agent Orange

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  • deborah barrie
    Mon Feb 28 2011 Toronto Star Minister calls for national probe of agent orange by Tanya Talaga and Diana Zlomislic Staff Reporters Canada must launch a
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2011
      Mon Feb 28 2011

      Toronto Star

      Minister calls for national probe of agent orange

      by Tanya Talaga and Diana Zlomislic Staff Reporters

      Canada must launch a sweeping probe into the use of a deadly component of Agent Orange, Ontario officials say in a strongly worded request to the federal government.

      “I am recommending that your department contact other provincial and territorial governments to determine if this herbicide was also used within their jurisdictions,”Nat ural Resources Minister Linda Jeffrey said in a letter Monday to federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

      Ottawa, though, seemed reluctant to get involved.

      Provinces and territories “are in the best position to conduct any investigation of where these products were used, as the federal role was limited to licensing,” Aglukkaq’s spokesman, Tim Vail, told the Star Monday night.

      Jeffrey’s request for a national investigation focuses on the widespread use of the dioxin-laced herbicide 2,4,5-T — the more toxic component in the two-part cocktail that comprised Agent Orange, which was infamously used to defoliate jungles and expose Viet Cong troops during the Vietnam War. The other ingredient — 2,4-D — is still approved for use today, officials said.

      Federal health agencies in the United States have linked exposure to the herbicide to more than 50 diseases and medical conditions, including several forms of cancer, heart problems, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

      New Brunswick has been grappling with the fallout of exposure to these toxins for years. Government documents show the U.S. military tested defoliants, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown during the 1960s.

      People who lived or worked on the base during the spraying are eligible to receive a $20,000 lump-sum compensation payment. The government is accepting applications until June 30. So far, more than 3,100 payments have been issued.

      The question of compensation in Ontario has not yet been addressed.

      The first step, provincial officials say, is to get a handle on the size of the problem.

      A Toronto Star investigation first exposed the widespread use of Agent Orange to strip massive plots of Crown land in Northern Ontario during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. The Ministry of Natural Resources and timber companies relied on summer students and junior rangers to help execute aerial spraying projects using the chemical cocktail throughout these decades, the Star found.

      Since that story broke on Feb. 17, former employees from other government agencies have stepped forward, admitting they, too, were using Agent Orange.

      Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid has asked Hydro One and the Ontario Energy Board to share any information they may have with the government probe after the Star revealed the utility used the toxin from 1950 to 1979 to clear power line corridors across the province, through city backyards and rural brush.

      The transportation ministry also used the toxin to clear roadsides until 1980.

      “It is certainly becoming clear to me that it was very widely used,” Jeffrey said.

      The natural resources ministry is now widening its probe to include the use of Agent Orange by municipalities and the agriculture ministry, Jeffrey said Monday.

      “Everyone was led to believe this was a product that was safe to use,” Jeffrey said, adding the herbicide was federally approved until 1985. Her ministry stopped using it in 1979, she noted.

      “When something is on a list the federal government approves for use, all of us would have used it — whether a private company, municipal government or provincial government,” she said.

      Diana Zlomislic can be reached at dzlomislic@... or 416-869-4472



      Monday Feb. 28, 2011

      Agent Orange may have once been sprayed across Toronto

      Paul Bliss, CTV News

      It is possible the toxic defoliant Agent Orange was sprayed in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area between the 1950s and 1980s.

      Hydro One spokesman Daffyd Roderick tells CTV News "it was the practice" over that 40 year period to use the dangerous chemical to clear brush in hydro corridors and around hydro towers.

      He added it is possible it was employed for that purpose in the City of Toronto and the surrounding region. Hydro One is now checking all of its files in a massive effort to pinpoint more details of its use.

      CTV News has learned Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources is urging for a national effort to determine where and when the herbicide was used.

      Ontario's Linda Jeffrey sent a letter on Monday to Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq recommending a nation-wide investigation to find out where and when the toxin was deployed.

      Queen's Park is already coordinating a massive government response to trace the historic use of Agent Orange, previously a federally-regulated herbicide.

      Agent Orange was the most widely used chemical in the Vietnam War for clearing jungle brush.

      Ontario says it was used by the Ministries of Transport, Natural Resources and the old Ontario Hydro to clear power line pathways and fields.

      It may have also been used by municipalities such as Toronto.

      Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to skin disorders, liver problems, certain types of cancers and impaired reproductive functions.



      Feb 28, 2011

      Agent Orange 'widely used' in Ont.

      The Canadian Press

      It's clear that Agent Orange was "very widely used" in Ontario for more than three decades and may have been used in other provinces and territories, the Ontario government said Monday.

      A provincial probe into the chemical mixture that has been linked to certain types of cancer is now looking at its use by the provincial utility, municipalities and even farmers, said Natural Resources Minister Linda Jeffrey.

      The herbicide 2,4,5-T — a dioxin-laced component of Agent Orange — wasn't banned by the federal government until 1985, which means it was widely used in Ontario, she said.

      "When something is on a list that the federal government approves for use, all of us in Ontario would have used it, whether you were a private company, municipal government, provincial government," she said.

      "Everybody was led to believe that this was a product that was safe to use."

      Jeffrey urged federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq in a letter Monday to contact other provinces and territories to find out if they used Agent Orange as well.

      The government has also contacted Hydro One and the Ontario Energy Board for more information about the use of Agent Orange along transmission lines.

      The utility — which used to be called Ontario Hydro — used the toxic herbicide to clear power line corridors across the province from 1950 to 1979.

      It was used on so-called transmission rights-of-way — the land on which large transmission towers stand, said Daffyd Roderick, a spokesman for Hydro One.

      "As far as where precisely, we're co-operating fully with the Ministry of Natural Resources to investigate the use and understand better how it was used," he said.

      Some Ontario farmers used the chemical along hedgerows and fence posts on the outskirts of their properties, but not on crops, Jeffrey said.

      Her ministry is still collecting information from other departments and agencies that may have used Agent Orange as part of their operations, she said.

      "Anybody who was interested in trying to keep down the brush and try to keep control over weeds at that point would have used the product," she said.
      'More questions than answers'

      "At the moment, there are more questions than answers, and I'm working to try and find as many answers as I possibly can."

      So far, it's come to light that the government used a mixture of two chemicals — 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T — to clear vast tracts of Crown land and control growth along highways during the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

      The combination of those two herbicides in equal parts comprised Agent Orange — the most widely used defoliant in the Vietnam War.

      The chemicals were federally approved at the time, but it is now known that exposure can lead to skin disorders, liver problems and certain cancers.

      Former workers have come forward saying they were exposed to the chemicals and have suffered health problems as a result.

      Those revelations prompted the government to launch its own investigation into its use of Agent Orange and announce plans for an independent panel to examine the issue.

      In 2007, the federal government made $20,000 ex-gratia payments available to people whose health may have been harmed by the spraying of Agent Orange at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick.

      Premier Dalton McGuinty has pointed the finger at previous Conservative governments in Ontario for failing to tell workers about the dangers of Agent Orange. The premier and his ministers have even avoided uttering the words "Agent Orange."

      The government needs to stop blaming others and reveal who might have been exposed to the chemicals, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

      "All people want to know is, where was it used?" she said. "Let's get to the bottom of it, and then let's talk about how do we help the people who have been affected — those who have developed cancers and other kinds of illnesses as a result."



      Feb 28, 2011

      The Sault Star


      Wildman regrets not probing more deeply into Agent Orange
      Cancerous compound used in Northern Ontario forests in the 1950s, ’ 60s and ’ 70s

      When Bud Wildman was Ontario’s NDP minister of natural resources 20 years ago, he says he spoke with department officials about the use of two controversial herbicides.

      The former Algoma MPP, who had the portfolio from 1990 to 1993, said he was assured that neither the ministry nor private companies were employing 2,4-D and 2,4,5 - T.

      Wildman’s queries were prompted by his battle in the early 1980s with the Progressive Conservative government to end the use of the two controversial herbicides.

      The New Democrat repeatedly raised the matter in the legislature and presented petitions against their use.

      It was recently revealed that Agent Orange, a toxic, cancer causing chemical which is a mixture of the two pesticides, was used in Northern Ontario forests in the 1950s, ’ 60s and ’ 70s.

      The government’s department of lands and forests ( the MNR’s predecessor) and timber companies used it to clear Crown land.

      As well, some Ministry of Transportation employees have indicated Agent Orange was sprayed along Ontario highways as late as 1980.

      Agent Orange was used by the U. S. military in the Vietnam War to defoliate trees to locate the Vietcong.

      Wildman said he never received any information about the past use of Agent Orange and the effects on workers and the general public.

      “ I’m thinking perhaps it would have been prudent on my part and other ministers to go beyond asking if it was being used or not, to ask about the effects of people using it 20 or 30 years earlier,’’ Wildman said. “ I regret that it wasn’t done at that time.’’

      In the 1980s, a large number of local environmentalists and others were concerned about herbicides that were being sprayed along power transmission lines north and east of Sault Ste. Marie and along Highway 17 North.

      Wildman said he received “ a standard answer” from the Tory government whenever he called for a moratorium on the use of the herbicides.

      He was told they had been approved by the federal government, which has the responsibility to determine chemical safety and protective regulations.

      “ At that time, the ( Progressive) Conservative government took the position it was approved by the federal government and they could use it,’’ he said.

      “ In my view, the provincial government had a responsibility to protect its employees and workers ( under health and safety regulations) as well as the public.

      “ As a result of the actions of myself and a number of people who knew the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam,’’ companies began posting signs when they were spraying in an area, he said.

      Wildman said he can’t recall if companies did that voluntarily or if it was regulated.

      Use of the two herbicides was phased out in the 1980s, he said.

      When these herbicides first came out, they were used extensively by governments, including municipalities, he said.

      Any studies should go beyond the MNR and should include other government agencies, power companies, utilities and private companies, he said.

      People whose health has been affected by Agent Orange's use should be compensated, Wildman said.

      “ It doesn’t make up for the pain and suffering, but at the very least, there should be compensation.’’

      http://www.saultstar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true <http://www.saultstar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=2997222> &e=2997222


      Feb 26, 2011

      The Timmins Daily Press


      MNR sets up Agent Orange hotline

      We need to get that information out there as quick as possible and we want to be accountable and and transparent.”
      Linda Jeffrey

      After hearing of a historical herbicide spray program which used toxic chemicals on Northern Ontario forests, Minister of Natural Resources Linda Jeffrey knew she needed to act quickly.

      “I was obviously concerned. We don’t know a lot about it, so I wanted to try and get all of the info I could as quickly as possible,” Jeffrey said in an interview Friday with The Daily Press.

      “I’ve spoken to the chief medical officer of health, along with representatives from the Workplace Safety Insurance Board, to get as much health information out there in the public as we can.”

      Media reports uncovered the use of the herbicide commonly known as Agent Orange on the Gordon Cosens forest between Hearst and Kapuskasing.

      The spraying took place in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

      Jeffrey explained in order to gather all necessary information, she is in the process of compiling a list of people for an independent fact finding panel.

      “It’s still the early days of the investigation now, but I’m hoping these people will be independent and have medical expertise.

      “We’re going to need toxicological knowledge available to us in order to determine what we’re looking at.”

      Along with the fact finding panel, the MNR has established a Herbicide Spray Program project team to help co-ordinate the “cross government investigation.”

      Agent Orange is a defoliant with highly toxic and carcinogenic properties once used by lumber companies.

      In Ontario, the MNR stopped using the herbicide in 1979, six years before it was banned.

      “We’re still getting a short list of people together who we’d like to work with us on this panel,” Jeffrey said. “We want to work with forestry companies, and we’re going to ask the panel to report regularly so that they can lower the worry that might be out there in the public.”

      She added MNR staff is trying to locate former employees who might have been exposed to the chemical, and encouraged anyone who may have been involved to see their family doctor. “It happened a long time ago, and so it’s going to be a challenge to identify these former employees. They may not necessarily be alerted until they read it in the media.”

      The minister said she is sympathetic to concerns about residents’ health.

      “I know how important this is when it’s a health concern, and I know when you’re worried, it affects your health even more.

      “We need to get that information out there as quick as possible, and we want to be accountable and transparent.”

      The MNR has established a toll-free line for people with concerns about potential exposure to herbicides at 1-888-3383364. Information is also available through the WSIB’s occupational disease information line at 1-800-387-0750, as well as the MNR website at www.mnr.gov.on.ca, or the WSIB website at www.wsib.on.ca.

      http://www.timminspress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true <http://www.timminspress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=2995641> &e=2995641


      Monday, 28 February 2011

      RE Ontario Hydro's use of Agent Orange

      Letter to the First Perspective

      Dear Friends,

      If dioxin contaminated Agent Orange was sprayed along these transmission corridors, the implications are horrendous. Especially for the First Nations and Métis people who may hunt and fish and pick berries anywhere near these corridors. These Transmission line corridors pass through many of the First Nation and Metis peoples Traditional territories. Dioxin has been linked to aproximately 50 diseases and medical conditions: http://www.vva.org/agent_orange.html including Type II Diabetes.
      If Ontario Hydro, Forest companies, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Natural Resources were spraying Agent Orange all over Ontario, you can bet it happenned all over Canada and in the United States as well. We need a truly National (coast to coast) enquiry about all of this. What do you think?

      For Land and Life,

      John H.W. Hummel
      Pollution/Health Researcher
      Nelson, British Columbia,Canada

      Ontario Hydro sprayed Agent Orange to clear corridors:

      Map of Canada's Electricity Transmission Grid:



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