BY. C.D. STELZER
first published in the Riverfront Times (St. Louis), Aug. 3, 1994
The anti-dioxin movement is made up of a coalition of
groups and individuals from anarchists to middle-aged
housewives. Here's a few samples of those who attended
Billie Elmore is a North Carolina activist who stopped
a German corporation from building an incinerator in her
state despite its ties to the governor. She opposed 17
incineration sites from 1988 to 1993. The incinerator
builder, ThermalKEM, finally gave up, but not before
spending $4 million, said Elmore. "No incinerator was
built, and never will be (that's) guaranteed," she said.
Bob McCray, a Globe, Ariz. resident, was exposed to
dioxin in the `60s, when the U.S. Forest Service sprayed
the area where he lives with Silvex, Dow Chemical's
brand name for Agent Orange, the defoliant used in
Vietnam. "I lost my last neighbor to cancer about three
weeks ago," said McCRay, who has soft-tissue sarcoma
himself. Dow later settled out of court with Globe
Estaban Cabal, 35, is a councilman in the town of
Rivas near Madrid. Cabal and other members of the
Spanish Greens Party were instrumental in stopping a
proposed waste incinerator in their community. In 1992,
more than 6,000 people participated in a March against
the proposed facility.
Peter Montague, publisher of Rachel's Hazardous Waste
News, is being sued by W.R. Gaffey, a retired Monsanto
epidemiologist, for libel. The suit is over the 1990
report of an allegedly fraudulent dioxin study. The
trial in federal court here has been delayed because a
lawyer that once represented Montague now works for the
firm representing Monsanto. It is now set for January.
When asked why Gaffey only sued him, even though others
reported the same story, Montague said: I thought about
that four years. I really don't know. At the time, I
think I had 20 or 25 readers in Missouri. It's strange."
Liane Casten, a freelance journalist from the Chicago
area, told the conference: In 1965 Dow Chemical
conducted a series of experiments on prisoners in
Homesburg (Pa.) Prison. The EPA found out about this in
the `70s. When the prisoners came forward, the EPA found
massive reasons to destroy evidence."
Janette D. Sherman, a physician from Alexandria, Va.,
asserted the EPA aided Dow Chemical in withholding
information on Dursban, a commercial pesticide. The EPA
conferred with Dow on the matter twice, once in 1989 and
again in 1991, Sherman said. "I filed three Freedom of
Information Act requests to get this information. I just
want everybody to look at this because Dursban varies
very little from 2,4,5-T (a dioxin), with the exception
of the nitrogen on the central ring."
Charles Sitton of Fenton, a member of the Vietnam
Veterans of America, served in the war in 1965 and 1966.
During his Navy tour, he navigated a river in an area
sprayed with Agent Orange. The defoliant contained high
levels of dioxin.
Afterwards, the Navy discharged him for anemia and
kidney problems. In 1980, he contracted myeloma, a bone
cancer. Last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs,
recognized the disease as a service-related illness. "I
wasn't supposed to live past 1986," said the veteran.
"My wife didn't tell me until a few months ago."
Sitton is concerned about the effects his exposure
may have on his children and theirs. He also said he has
nerve damage. To demonstrate, he pulled out a pocket
knife and scratched and jabbed his forearms with the
blunt end of its screwdriver blade. Blood began
trickling down one arm.
He didn't flinch.