February 1, 2010

Former Marine Helps Vieques

It doesn't take great genius to recognize the cause and effect of toxic substances on human beings, but the corporatists who control every federal agency, including the CDC and the EPA are going to stonewall, delay and "manufacture doubt," as the tobacco companies did in the 50s in an attempt to delay the inevitable apologies and compensations which will eventually be granted.  I just hope the people who are suffering now will be granted a hearing in their lifetimes. 
Island residents sue U.S., saying
military made them sick
By Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein,
CNN Special Investigations February 1, 2010
Vieques, Puerto Rico (CNN) -- Nearly 40 years ago, Hermogenes Marrero was a teenage U.S. Marine, stationed as a security guard on the tiny American island of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico.
Marrero says he's been sick ever since. At age 57, the former Marine sergeant is nearly blind, needs an oxygen tank, has Lou Gehrig's disease and crippling back problems, and sometimes needs a wheelchair.
[...] The decorated former Marine is now the star witness in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit by more than 7,000 residents of this Caribbean island -- about three-quarters of its population -- who say that what the U.S. military did on Vieques has made them sick.
For nearly six decades, beginning right after World War II, Vieques was one of the Navy's largest firing ranges and weapons testing sites.
[...]  After years of controversy and protest, the Navy left Vieques in 2003. Today, much of the base is demolished, and what's left is largely overgrown. But the lawsuit remains, and island residents want help and compensation for numerous illnesses they say they suffer.
"The people need the truth to understand what is happening to their bodies," said John Eaves Jr., the Mississippi attorney who represents the islanders in the lawsuit.
Because he no longer lives on Vieques, Marrero is not one of the plaintiffs but has given sworn testimony in the case. He said the weapons used on the island included napalm; depleted uranium, a heavy metal used in armor-piercing ammunition; and Agent Orange, the defoliant used on the Vietnamese jungles that was later linked to cancer and other illnesses in veterans.
[...] The Environmental Protection Agency designated parts of Vieques a Superfund toxic site in 2005, requiring the Navy to begin cleaning up its former bombing range. The service identified many thousands of unexploded munitions and set about blowing them up. But the cleanup effort has further outraged some islanders, who fear that more toxic chemicals will be released.
[...]  The U.S. government's response to their lawsuit is to invoke sovereign immunity, arguing that residents have no right to sue it. The government also disputes that the Navy's activities on Vieques made islanders ill, citing a 2003 study by scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found no link.
That study, however, has been harshly criticized by numerous scientists, and the CDC is embarking on a new effort to determine whether residents may have been sickened by the contamination from the Navy range.
Asked whether his duty on the island made him sick, Marrero responds, "Of course it did."

"This is American territory. The people that live here are American," he said. "You hurt someone, you have to take care of that person. And the government's just not doing anything about it."
Here's an excellent exploration from Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog on the subject of manufactured doubt and the role of legal liars like Hill and Knowlton, to create and promote dubious issues which divert attention from real life and death issues which slow down the profit margin.  This essay includes a review of a book written in 2008 by George Washington University epidemiologist David Michaels called, Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.
The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy


1 comment:

fern said...

I appreciate your comparison of the situation in Vieques to the actions taken by the tobacco industries. Repeating over and over that there is no problem does not, in fact, mean that there is no problem.