By Miriam Raftery
July 24, 2014 (San Diego)—A growing number of veterans who served at Ft. McClellan in Alabama, where chemical and biological weapons testing and training was done, are now suffering health problems including cancer, autoimmune diseases and birth defects in children that may be linked to exposures to these toxins. Radioactive materials were also used. Sixty Minutes has called it one of the most toxic sites in America.
Now those who served at Ft. McClellan are taking their case to Congress. House Resolution 411, introduced by Rep. Paul Tonko D-NY] and cosponsored by several other members including Rep. Duncan Hunter [R-El Cajon] would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a registry of certain veterans who were stationed at Fort McClellan. (Read the Bill).
Channel 2 in Atlanta, Georgia has conducted an investigation spanning several months:
The station has also created an interactive timeline: The Toxic History of Ft. McClellan
Tens of thousands of soldiers were stationed at the base from 1935 until its closure in 1999 (though the base was still utilized by Homeland Security and National Guard forces even after the official closure). The base was home to the Women’s Corps, military police school and Chemical Crops.
Anniston, the town where the base was located, was also home to Monsanto’s manufacturing facilities for PCB, Agent Orange and other highly toxic chemicals. Monsanto conducted tests that found water polluted with these chemicals caused fish to die within four minutes, yet the chemical company suppressed these reports, Veterans United reports: http://www.veteransunited.com/network/will-ft-mcclellan-exceed-camp-lejeune-status/
The federal government conducted an investigation into pollution in the town of Anniston, where the plant is located. That investigation found the town to be toxic . Monsanto and Solutia, the new name of Monsanto’s chemical division, were eached required to pay $1 billion for cleanup of the toxic area. But soldiers who served at Ft. McClellan were never told, a Washington Post story in 2003 revealed.
In 2007, the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission recommended creation of a registry for those who served at the base, but seven years later, no registry has yet been created.
Rep. Tonko, author of House Resolution 411, says its backers will push until they are successful. He declares, “Why don't we do what's right here? Let's serve justice.”