Terlaje demands answers after death of agent orange vet

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MSGT LeRoy Foster receives the Vietnam Gallantry Cross from Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Photo: MSGT LEROY FOSTER Twitter page.

Guam – A high-ranking island senator is demanding action and answers as the unincorporated U.S. Territory of Guam mourns the loss of Agent Orange whistleblower Master Sergeant LeRoy Foster. According to a press release from Guam Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje, Foster died on Friday. And her followup letter to oversight chairman Sen. Tom Ada (D) is requesting a public hearing with the Guam Environmental Protection Agency. A Twitter account under the name MSGT LEROY FOSTER lists  him as a resident of Lakeland, Florida.

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.

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.

Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje is asking Committee on Environment, Land, Agriculture, and Procurement Reform Committee Chairman Ada to call an oversight hearing with Guam Environmental Protection Agency on the status of Agent Orange testing at sites outside Andersen Air Force Base and an uncovered dumpsite near San Carlos Falls in Nimitz Hill.

For further details, please see below: (1) Vice Speaker Terlaje’s letter to Sen. Tom Ada, and (2) the official news media statement from the Office of Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje.

October 22, 2018

The Honorable Senator Thomas C. Ada, Chairperson

Committee on Environment, Land, Agriculture, and Procurement Reform

Ste. 207, Ada Plaza Center

173 Aspinall Ave., Hagåtña, Gu 96910

RE: Request for Oversight Hearing with Guam Environmental Protection Agency on status of Agent Orange testing at sites outside AAFB and status of uncovered dumpsite near San Carlos Falls in Nimitz Hill, Piti.

Hafa Adai Honorable Senator Ada,

I am asking for your assistance in addressing concerns raised with regard to the environmental health and safety of our community. I am respectfully requesting an oversight hearing be conducted with the Guam Environmental Protection Agency regarding plans and status of testing for Agent Orange at sites outside Anderson Air Force Base and the status of the uncovered dumpsite near San Carlos Falls in Nimitz Hill, Piti, for which I had inquired about on August 01, 2018.

On July 30, 2018, I did receive a response from Administrator Walter Leon Guerrero addressing some of my questions and concerns regarding Agent Orange testing that I had made beginning February, 01, 2018. However, I have yet to receive response on my remaining inquiries and request for documents regarding the following:

  1. Request for Quality Assurance Project Plan for testing conducted on Anderson Air Force Base and further details of testing on base.
  2. We have been assured that GEPA is working with USEPA for testing outside the fence and is hoping to begin testing by November 11, 2018. However, request for details of plan testing in conjunction with USEPA outside of military bases and whether this includes along fuel line, which sites will be involved and whether they will be testing for 2,4-D/2,4,5-T/2,4,5-TP (Silvex) and 2,3,7,8-TCDD (Dioxin).
  3. Request for list of all documents or test results in GEPA possession that may indicate the presence of TCDD (or its parts) or Polychlorinated Dibenzo-P-Dioxins in water or land in Guam.
  4. Request for GEPA recommended un-remediated areas for testing.

On August 01, 2018, after receiving photos of what appeared to be an old storage facility containing rusted barrels near San Carlos Falls in Nimitz Hill, Piti, I immediately contacted GEPA and requested the following:

  1. Any information they might have as to the contents of the barrels.
  2. Advisement on any safety hazards identified, violations addressed or plans for clean up and recovery of the site.

I have yet to receive written responses to these inquiries and requests. GEPA has verbally assured us that they are looking into the Piti site and cleanup and they have requested removal action with USACE FUDS, and assistance from USCG and USEPA. They have not confirmed the contents of the barrels or what threat it poses to our health.

Recently, the photos of the dumpsite have made its way on to social media and have, understandably so, sparked questions and concerns from the public as well as outrage from Veterans who are members the Agent Orange Survivors of Guam group. They are demanding testing of the contents of the barrels.

GEPA has been given sufficient time to respond to the inquiries and requests made by my self, veterans and by people in our community who are concerned for their health and safety. The lack of an immediate or even well timed response has been frustrating and does not help to building confidence or trust in the agency mandated to safeguard our environment. It is important that the public receive details on these matters.

For these reason, I respectfully request an oversight hearing be conducted with the Guam Environmental Protection Agency as soon as possible. I look forward to your assistance with this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 472-3586 for further information or any concerns you may have with regard to my request.

Si Yu’os Ma’åse’!

Therese M. Terlaje

CC: Media

The Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje

Committee on Culture and Justice

I Mina’trentai Kuåttro na Liheslaturan Guåhan

34th Guam Legislature

Guam Congress Building, 163 Chalan Santo Papa, Hagåtña, Guam 96910

T: (671) 472-3586  F: (671) 472-3589

[email protected]

Statement from Acting Speaker Terlaje on the Passing of Master Sergeant Leroy Foster 

For Immediate News Release(October 20, 2018 – Hagåtña): I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Master Sergeant Leroy Foster yesterday evening. Master Sgt. Foster’s relentless fight to expose the truth of Agent Orange use on Guam and obtain justice for his fellow Veterans and the people of Guam, was instrumental to the introduction of H.R. 809 -The FOSTER (Fighting for Orange-Stricken Territories in Eastern Regions) Act, named in his honor by Representative Dennis A. Ross, R-Florida.

Master Sgt. Foster served at Andersen Air Force base in Guam during the Vietnam War, where he says he sprayed tens of thousands of gallons of Agent Orange in and around the base and along the fuel lines that run through the island from the Navy’s Sasa Valley Fuel Farm to Anderson Air Force Base.  He was later diagnosed with five (5) different cancers and twenty-eight (28) autoimmune diseases that he attributes to his exposure to Agent Orange while stationed on Guam.

H.R. 809-The FOSTER Act would allow eligible Veterans who served in Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa during the Vietnam War to receive expedited consideration for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits if they suffer from diseases the U.S. government has linked to the herbicide Agent Orange.

We owe him a great debt of gratitude for his courage to speak the truth and pave the way to achieving justice for our Veterans and our people. I send my deepest condolences to the Foster family during this very difficult time.

-END OF STATEMENT-

The Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje

Committee on Culture and Justice

I Mina’trentai Kuåttro na Liheslaturan Guåhan

34th Guam Legislature

Guam Congress Building, 163 Chalan Santo Papa, Hagåtña, Guam 96910

T: (671) 472-3586  F: (671) 472-3589

[email protected]