Agent Orange oversight set for 2pm Wednesday

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Guam – At least for one senator the hunt is on for evidence of Agent Orange contamination on Guam. A public hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon at the legislature.

Acting Speaker Therese Terlaje immediately requested a public hearing just over a week ago, upon learning of the death of Agent Orange whistleblower USAF MSGT Leroy Foster (Ret.). Foster reportedly died two Fridays ago.

Senator Tom Ada’s Committee on Environment, Lands, Agriculture, and Procurement Reform will conduct an oversight hearing on Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. in the Public Hearing Room of the Guam Congress Building in Hagatna.

Foster was the well-known veteran who said he sprayed tens of thousands of gallons of Agent Orange herbicide on Guam during the Vietnam War, and who was subsequently diagnosed with five cancers and 28 autoimmune diseases that he attributed to his exposure to the chemical. The veteran was a resident of Lakeland, Florida.

House Resolution 809, The FOSTER Act, seeks to allow eligible veterans who served in Guam, the Northern Marianas, and American Samoa during the Vietnam War to receive expedited consideration for Veterans Affairs benefits if they suffer from diseases the U.S. government has linked to Agent Orange.

The act is named after Leroy Foster. “F.O.S.T.E.R.” stands for Fighting for Orange-Stricken Territories in Easter Regions. In April of 2017, the Guam Legislature unanimously passed Terlaje’s Resolution No. 25-34 expressing support for Ross’ H.R. 809, the FOSTER Act. The website congress.gov shows the resolution was referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on February 6 of 2017 after being introduced by US House Rep. Dennis Ross on the first of the same month.

Items on the public hearing agenda include the request for a Quality Assurance Project Plan for testing on Andersen Air Force Base; documents or test results in the possession of the Guam Environmental Protection Agency that may indicate the presence of related contaminants in Guam lands and waters; also, Guam EPA recommendations for testing of un-remediated areas; the details of any plans to test for Agent Orange outside of military bases; plus findings to date and mitigation plans.