Roughly halfway up the eastern side of Enewetak Atoll lies the island of Runit. Runit was used for a number of nuclear tests, including at least one that spread little bits of plutonium on the island. Since plutonium has a long half life and it was impossible to find and remove all the tiny pieces of it, the island has been placed off limits for the next 25,000 years. This is also one reason Runit was chosen to encrypt radioactive debris brought from the other islands in the atoll. It has two ready made pits--craters from the early Cactus and Lacross fission tests--next to each other on the northern end of the island. Contaminated debris and topsoil was mixed up in a big concrete slurry that filled Cactus crater. The crypt was capped by a 25-foot-high concrete dome seen in the photos below.
George Vincent greets his service dog, Vanilla, at Glacier Park International Airport Friday afternoon. Vincent had not seen his miniature American Eskimo dog in nearly a year after he became homeless.
J.B. Stone wrote:Thompson, Alderson testify in support of health benefits for those subjected to Project 112, Project SHAD
Sunday, 26 February 2012 02:44 Lake County News reports
On Friday, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) demanded that service members who were subjected to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) chemical weapon testing be able to receive full medical care and disability compensation for their service-connected medical conditions.
Thompson provided testimony along with former senior Navy officer and Humboldt County resident Jack Alderson at a field hearing in Sacramento of the Institute of Medicine Study Committee, which is charged with investigating the potential health impacts of the chemical weapons.
In late 2002, the DOD revealed for the first time that between 1962 and 1974 it had tested harmful chemical and biological agents by spraying them on ships and sailors.
These tests – known as Project 112, which included Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) – exposed at least 6,000 service members without their knowledge to harmful chemical and biological weapons and included some of the most deadly chemicals on Earth: Vx Nerve Gas, Sarin Nerve Gas and E. coli.
Many veterans who were subjected to chemical tests as part of Project 112/SHAD have developed serious medical issues but do not currently receive priority care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or disability benefits because the VA does not officially recognize any long-term health consequences from exposure to the chemical agents from these specific tests.
In 2010, Congress passed a law requiring the VA to contract with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to consider the health impact on veterans that were part of Project 112/SHAD.
If the scientific study by the IOM finds a connection between the chemical testing and long-term health consequences, the VA will likely be compelled to provide all service members exposed to this testing priority medical care and full disability compensation. Thompson today submitted testimony to the committee.
“Our country must ensure that any service member who has become sick or developed a disability because of these tests is provided with the treatment they deserve and benefits they’ve earned,” said Thompson. “We cannot wait any longer. Many brave men who served our country are now sick or have passed away because of Project 112’s chemical and biological testing. It is our duty to right this wrong and get our service members the care they need.”
In 2002, Congress directed the IOM to conduct a study of the health effects associated with the chemicals used during Project 112/SHAD.
Numerous reports by other agencies and departments within the U.S. government, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say exposure to these substances have long-term health consequences.
However, after five years of research the IOM study found no connection existed between the substances tested and the health problems now widely seen among known SHAD veterans.
As a result, the VA does not recognize any long-term health consequences from the Project 112/SHAD tests.
The IOM has since conceded that the first study did not adequately sample the full universe of Project 112/SHAD veterans, and that the study panel could not obtain sufficient information to assess levels of exposure to specific agents.
The initial study also failed to account for the job and duty assignments of various personnel on board all the ships and tugs involved in the chemical testing. Because of this, the first study failed to take into account the different levels of exposure.
For instance, some personnel were exposed during training and testing to multiple weapons, experimental vaccines, trace elements, stimulants, and decontamination agents, whereas other personnel would have had limited exposure because of where they were stationed. For these reasons, Congress passed a 2010 law requiring a second study.
Alderson was in charge of five different light tug operations from 1964 to 1967. As a senior officer, Alderson was notified of some military chemical tests performed on animals on his ship while he was in service.
Once he started getting sick, he asked Thompson to investigate whether or not there could be a link between his health problems and Project 112/SHAD.
It was found that the DOD performed experimental tests by spraying live chemical and biological agents on ships and sailors to test the Navy’s vulnerability to toxic warfare.
Alderson commanded some of the ships used in these experiments. He has since been diagnosed with malignant melanoma, several types of skin cancers, prostate cancer and doctors have found four occurrences of Asbestos in his lungs.
“Jack, and all the people who served with him, deserve to know the truth,” said Thompson. “If we don’t get these service members the care they need, then how can we ask our current service members to put their lives on the line knowing that harm from the enemy may not be the only danger they encounter? It is imperative for us to right our governments past wrongs and help these brave veterans who were unknowingly subjected to these tests.”
For more information about Project SHAD and Alderson's story, see this Lake County News story from May 2008: http://bit.ly/A55Q89.
For more information on the IOM study click here: http://iom.edu/Activities/Veterans/SHADII.aspx.
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The studies are "a useful frame of reference" for studying that question, but not the final answer, he said.
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