Sunday, 18 May 2008


I am at a loss for words over the following article, will wait to see what further develops but I have to admit, a knee jerk reaction makes me want to move my children away, yes I am scared for them.

THE Australian Army tested chemical weapons on a town which now has deaths from cancer 10 times the state average.

Military scientists sprayed the toxic defoliant Agent Orange in the jungle that is part of the water catchment area for Innisfail in Queensland's far north at the start of the Vietnam War.

The Sun-Herald last week found the site where military scientists tested Agent Orange in 1966. It is on a ridge little more 100 metres above the Johnstone River, which supplies the drinking water for Innisfail.

Forty years later the site - which abuts farmer Alan Wakeham's land - is still bare, covered only in tough Guinea grass, but surrounded by thick jungle.

"It's strange how the jungle comes right up to this site and then just stops. It won't grow any further," Mr Wakeham said.

Agent Orange was sprayed extensively in Vietnam to defoliate the jungle and remove cover for North Vietnamese troops. It contains chemicals including the dioxin TCDD, which causes forms of cancer, birth defects and other health problems.

Researcher Jean Williams found details of the secret Innisfail tests in the Australian War Memorial archives.

"These tests carried out between 1964 and 1966 were the first tests of Agent Orange and they were carried out at Gregory Falls near Innisfail," said Ms Williams, who has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for her work on the effects of chemicals on Vietnam veterans.

"I was told there is a high rate of cancer there but no one can understand why. Perhaps now they will understand."

Ms Williams unearthed three boxes of damning files.

One file showed the chemicals 2,4-D, Diquat, Tordon and dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) were sprayed on the rainforest in the Gregory Falls area in June 1966.

The file carried the remarks: "Considered sensitive because report recommends use of 2,4-D with other agents in aerial spraying trials in Innisfail."

Ms Williams said: "It was considered sensitive because they were mixing together all the bad chemicals, which just made them worse. They cause all the cancers."

Ms Williams claims a file which could indicate much wider testing in a project called Operation Desert had gone missing. The contents were marked "too disturbing to ever be released".

"Those chemicals stay in the soil for years and every time there is a storm they are stirred up and go into the water supply," Ms Williams said.

"The poor people of Innisfail have been kept in the dark about this. But these chemicals cause cancer and deformities that are passed on for generations. It is shocking. I am just an 83-year-old war-weary battler. I don't want any more medals, I just want justice for the people of Innisfail."


Joh said...

I would want to move my children away too. This is really disturbing information you have unearthed. It's better to know though.
I have visited from Imaginif today.

Nunyaa said...

The authorities are trying to play it all down and say there is no problem whatsoever and nothing to worry about. Now there is calls for enquiries and such, so guess we will all just have to wait and see. Thank you for coming over :-)