Feds admit Agent Orange death

Background Note:

2,4-D, mixed with other phenoxy herbicides, is one of the most widely used weed-killers for lawns and gardens across North America. It was a component of Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War and dropped by U.S. warplanes over Vietnamese rainforests to defoliate the forest and flush out Vietcong troops from their jungle hideouts. Agent Orange was a 50-50 mixture of two herbicides: 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxy-acetic acid (2,4,5-T) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

The 2,4,5-T component of Agent Orange, was banned following a serious industrial accident involving the escape of a toxic dioxin 2,3,7,8-TCDD in Seveso near Milan, Italy, in 1976. The industry now blame the toxicity of Agent Orange on the banned Agent Orange component.

2,4-D, is one of the 22 pesticide active ingredients identified within Quebec's Pesticide Management Code to be banned for sale and use on lawns and gardens across the Province of Quebec.

Also see:

Major Problems with PMRA's Feb. 21, 2005 Review on 2,4-D Herbicide http://www.flora.org/healthyottawa/fs-5.htm

Sun, May 15, 2005

Feds admit Agent Orange death

Ottawa Sun

Greg Weston discovers how a widow's crusade ended 40 years of denials by the federal government

By GREG WESTON, Parliamentary Bureau

KINGSTON -- Forty years after the American military was allowed to test-bomb a New Brunswick army base with deadly Agent Orange herbicide, the Canadian government is finally admitting veterans are dying as a result of being poisoned.

The Department of National Defence has confirmed that in 1966, U.S. forces doused forested areas of the Gagetown base with the infamous chemical defoliant, testing it for clearing jungle during the Vietnam War.

Since then, Agent Orange has been linked to a horrifying array of cancers, diabetes, respiratory diseases and blindness among U.S. veterans -- not to mention two generations of sick Vietnamese -- and even birth defects in children of vets.

For decades, the Canadian military refused to acknowledge the Gagetown horror ever happened, much less any connection between Agent Orange and sick vets.

The Sun has learned that 10 months ago, for the first time in four decades, the government quietly accepted a medical compensation claim from a retired Canadian brigadier general stricken with leukemia.

A decorated officer of foreign wars with the Calgary Highlanders, Gordon Sellar rose to the very top of Canada's military, retiring as head of land forces.

But during his storied career, he also commanded the Black Watch regiment at Gagetown -- sadly, at the precise time the U.S. was poisoning the place with Agent Orange.


In a landmark decision, the Department of Veterans Affairs has ruled that Sellar's cancer was caused by his exposure to Agent Orange. "The department is aware that Agent Orange was used as a herbicide for defoliation on the training grounds of CFB Gagetown," the confidential memorandum states. "The department accepts the medical opinion (of Sellar's doctors) and the results of published U.S. medical research that establishes a causative relationship between Agent Orange exposure and the development of chronic lymphocytic leukemia."

The decision was so strong and unequivocal, it provided the maximum possible pension compensation.

More significantly, it should open the door to similar claims from potentially thousands of other sick and dying Canadian vets exposed to Agent Orange at Gagetown.

An official at Veterans Affairs admits the department has done nothing to publicize the Sellar decision, nor otherwise reach out to help victims of Agent Orange. "Perhaps when your article appears, more will come forward," the official said.


If so, the Sellar decision will stand as a fitting final salute to a revered general who cared deeply about the men in his command, a soldier who would have done anything to spare others the medical misery wrought upon their ranks.

A decorated war hero who survived the bloody battlefields of Europe and Korea, it is surely beyond cruel that Gordon Sellar would be felled on a chemical killing field at his own army base.

On Oct. 1, 2004, two weeks after the first compensation payment appeared in his pension cheque, the brigadier-general lost his final battle, a 15-year fight with the cancer he inherited from Agent Orange.

At his side as she had been throughout his long illness was Gloria, his wife and soulmate of 60 years. At 77, for all the hard years of caring for her ailing husband, she remains a remarkable woman of quiet grace, intelligence and wit.

If the Agent Orange victory belongs to anyone in this country, it is to this elegant lady of steely tenacity for whom even the indomitable defence bureaucracy was clearly no match.


The first time Gloria saw the chemical drums with their telltale orange stripes was in the U.S. army trucks parked at the Oromocto Hotel next to the Gagetown base.

"We were between houses and staying at the hotel," she recalled during an interview last week. "The American soldiers were staying there, too, and would come in every evening filthy dirty. It was no secret what they were doing. Of course, no one realized the potential of what was happening at the time. I hate to think what happened to those poor men."

Gordon Sellar began his career fighting overseas in World War II with the Calgary Highlanders. By the time he reached Gagetown in 1963, he was a colonel and commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Black Watch, with more than 1,000 men under him.

Like all infantry in training, they probably spent more time on their bellies than on their feet. Little did they know they were crawling through an invisible swamp of deadly poison.

"We exercised for lengthy concentrated periods in the contaminated areas," he would later write in an official memo. "We lived on the ground in camp and trained both day and night. Our food was prepared there ... in areas that had been defoliated.

"We didn't know it was Agent Orange."

Gloria has trouble looking at photographs from those days; the one of Gordon in his full field gear, another of the two of them when they were leaving Gagetown in 1967.


"I look at the two of us in that picture, and think, gosh, we just didn't have a clue what had happened... By then, it (Agent Orange) was already there; it had started."

Over the next decade, Sellar continued to the top of the military, retiring in 1977 as the director general of Canadian land forces.

Gloria said the ensuing 15 years were a dream fulfilled, living on a 58-acre country estate north of Kingston, close to their three grown children, free to pursue a lifelong passion for horses that first brought the couple together as kids growing up in Calgary.

As always, Gordon kept in top physical condition. Until one day in 1994 when the dizzy spells started.

A simple blood test revealed the horrible truth: He had a form of leukemia that could spread cancer anywhere in his body at any time --one of the diseases being associated with Agent Orange.

By then, the effects of the odious Vietnam herbicide were being loudly debated in the U.S., with hundreds of thousands of vets on a special government health watch.

Before long, Gloria put it all together with the orange barrels and the American soldiers at the Oromocto Hotel.

"We were obviously shattered by all this, and I said to the doctor at the time that this man was exposed to Agent Orange.

"And he just said, 'Oh?' He didn't know anything about it."


The living area of the Kingston condominium is dominated by two large oil paintings on opposite walls, portraits of Gordon and Gloria Sellar staring out at the one thing that mattered most in their six decades together -- each other.

On this day, the two faces painted in happier times are looking across a huge dining table covered in stacks of books, research papers and correspondence.

It is all the ammunition in Gloria's arsenal, a 15-year campaign to bring sense to the unthinkable -- her husband's slow decline into a medical hell not of his making.

It started with debilitating bouts of pneumonia that put him into hospital, his immune system all but wiped out by the leukemia. Then came the tumors -- first one under his eye, then on the side of his head, then one in his ear, reduced with so much chemotherapy that his trips to the cancer clinic became daily.


Every time her husband was examined by doctors from Veterans Affairs, Gloria was on their case about Agent Orange.

Why was it not being recognized by the Canadian government, the same government that let the Americans spray it all over Gagetown? And what about thousands of other men exposed?

She started burying Veterans Affairs in letters and thick files of information she had gathered on Agent Orange.

"They were actually very good with me. They seemed quite surprised by some of the information I was giving them. It's just that everything moves so very slowly."

Everything except her husband's cancer. By 2000, he was in a wheelchair, and their beloved country estate, horses and their teams of prize hunting dogs were all gone.

In May 2003, he entered a chronic care hospital to recover from an emergency hernia operation. He would never go home.

Despite virtually moving in to the hospital, Gloria kept up her crusade for justice. All she wanted was a simple recognition that Agent Orange was killing her husband, and possibly others like him.

She tried to track down members of the Black Watch who had served under him. Many were sick. Many more had already died. All were afraid to talk about the dirty secret of Gagetown.

The Canadian defence department wasn't helping. As late as February 2004, the Canadian military posted a stunning "health bulletin" on its government website. By then, more than 10,000 American veterans of the Vietnam War were in active treatment for cancers and other diseases related to Agent Orange. Another 312,000 were under medical surveillance.

Yet the Canadian bulletin stated "extensive research" had concluded that "Agent Orange was unlikely to be the cause of the (Vietnam) veterans' symptoms or illnesses."

Only months after the bulletin was issued, Gloria won her case with Veterans' Affairs, the government having finally acknowledged that Agent Orange had indeed given her husband terminal cancer.

He died a few weeks later.


Gordon Sellar's funeral attracted some of Canada's finest soldiers. One of them had been a young lieutenant in the Black Watch at Gagetown during the Agent Orange tests.

"How are you doing?" someone asked.

"Not too well," the man replied. "No one seems to know why but I have throat cancer and I have never smoked."

greg.weston@tor. sunpub.com



Veteran Lawsuits - Agent Orange

Pesticide Information Profiles - 2,4-D

2,4-D: Research Shows It Is Not As Safe As We Are Led To Believe


The Hatfield Group, West Vancouver, British Columbia


Agent Orange: two words that cause shudders for anyone who remembers the Vietnam war, among the first to use chemical weapons to target the environment. Decades later, the impact of chemical warfare in Vietnam is still being felt. Canada has played a part in the international effort to mitigate that impact, and the Hatfield Group of consultants won a prestigious award in 2000 for its contribution to that effort. CIDA and the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters Canada singled out Hatfield "in recognition of excellence in communicating private sector contributions to international cooperation issues." Specifically, Hatfield was honoured for focusing international attention on the residual environmental impacts of Agent Orange. In September 2002, the Viet Nam Veterans of America will honour the firm's work on Agent Orange through investiture in the Legion of Honour in Cape May, New Jersey.

Hatfield Group participated in the Team Canada 2001 trade mission to China, which, says Tom Boivin, President and Principal, was "superb and very profitable, enabling us to get our foot in the door." During the mission, the company signed an agreement with Petro-China that is funded through the Canadian Space Agency. The project will use data from the Canadian Radarsat satellite to develop environmental products and services to facilitate oil and gas exploration and environmental impact assessments in the Tarim river basin of Xinjiang province in western China.

With a staff of 50 professionals working out of offices in Vancouver, Jakarta, Bangkok and Santiago, the Hatfield Group markets its environmental consulting services to private industry, governments, and international development agencies throughout North America, Asia and the Pacific Rim countries.



Viet Nam, Agent Orange, and Dioxin:
Further Resources

Hatfield Consultants Ltd.
Suite 201-1571 Bellevue Avenue
West Vancouver, BC,
Tel:(604) 926-3261
Fax:(604) 926-5389

Hatfield Consultants Ltd. - Staff


Quebec's Pesticide Management Code

The following pertains to the Code for 2005:

All pesticide products that contain the active ingredients that will be prohibited in Quebec (see the list below at Annex 1) must not be available directly to the consumer. They must be sold from behind a manned counter (such as a locked compartment, the back of the store, etc.). Furthermore, all Class 4 pesticides (with some exceptions) are added to this category.

To view a list of products that are allowed to be on the shelves in stores:


The Regulation is as follows: "it is prohibited to display products intended for domestic use in a way which makes these products accessible to the public, as of April 2005".

Also inclusive are the regulations for 2004 and 2003. Please see below for details.

The following pertains to the Code for 2004:

Sale Rules:

it is prohibited to sell fertilizer-pesticide mixtures and mixed packages (e.g. herbicide and insecticide), as of April 2004; it is prohibited for commercial users to apply on lawn spaces pesticides that are impregnated or mixed with a fertilizer, unless these products are stored in separate containers.

The following pertains to the Code since 2003:

Annex 1 is the list of pesticides that are prohibited for use on public, semi-public and municipal green spaces.

Pesticides are prohibited for use inside and outside all daycares, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, areas where there are activities with children, 14 years of age, or less. Only a small list of bio-pesticides may be used in these areas, and that too, only under a strict protocol of application. This list is below at Annex 2.
If you see:

· that prohibited products are being sold in stores (eg. weed and feed or mixed packages such as insecticides and herbicides, etc.)

· or that domestic pesticide products are not behind a manned counter (see above for the 'allowed' list),

· or that a red sign indicating that pesticides have been used in protected areas.

To lodge a complaint, please call (418) 521-3830 or at 1 800 561-1616, choose language of choice, then dial 0 for information for your local Environment centre for complaints, by e-mail at
info@menv.gouv.qc.ca, info@menv.gouv.qc.ca, info@menv.gouv.qc.ca or, you can find the Environment Office in your area at:

The highlights of the Pesticide Code of Quebec can be found at:




2,4-D (all chemical forms)
Chlorthal dimethyl
MCPA (all chemical forms)
Mecoprop (all chemical forms)


Boric acid
Silicon dioxide (diatomaceous earth)
Disodium octaborate tetrahydrate
Ferric phosphate
Insecticidal soap

Calcium sulfide or calcium polysulfide

Acetic acid
Conjugated decanoic and pelargonic acid
Herbicidal soap

Active ingredients approved by the federal government*

For detailed information on this project, contact :(418) 521-3830 or
at 1 800 561-1616, by e-mail at
info@menv.gouv.qc.ca or on the Internet
at http://www.menv.gouv.qc.ca


Deborah Elaine Barrie
4 Catherine Street
Smiths Falls, On
K7A 3Z8


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