Black People : Vieques, Puerto Rico residents sue US over Radiation Poisoning

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Ankhur, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Island residents sue U.S., saying military made them sick
    By Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein,
    CNN Special Investigations Unit
    February 1, 2010 4:03 p.m. EST


    * Vieques was one of Navy's largest firing ranges and weapons testing sites
    * Thousands of residents say testing has made them seriously ill
    * Government says under "sovereign immunity," residents have no right to sue
    * See how residents are coping with illnesses on "Campbell Brown" tonight 8 ET

    Hear from residents of Vieques, where thousands of people say U.S. weapons testing has made them seriously ill, on tonight's "Campbell Brown," 8 ET

    Vieques, Puerto Rico (CNN) -- Nearly 40 years ago, Hermogenes Marrero was a teenage U.S. Marine, stationed as a security guard on the tiny American island of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico.

    Marrero says he's been sick ever since. At age 57, the former Marine sergeant is nearly blind, needs an oxygen tank, has Lou Gehrig's disease and crippling back problems, and sometimes needs a wheelchair.

    "I'd go out to the firing range, and sometimes I'd start bleeding automatically from my nose," he said in an interview to air on Monday night's "Campbell Brown."

    "I said, 'My God, why am I bleeding?' So then I'd leave the range, and it stops. I come back, and maybe I'm vomiting now. I used to get diarrhea, pains in my stomach all the time. Headaches -- I mean, tremendous headaches. My vision, I used to get blurry."

    The decorated former Marine is now the star witness in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit by more than 7,000 residents of this Caribbean island -- about three-quarters of its population -- who say that what the U.S. military did on Vieques has made them sick.

    Read: Are Americans being forgotten on Vieques?

    For nearly six decades, beginning right after World War II, Vieques was one of the Navy's largest firing ranges and weapons testing sites.

    "Inside the base, you could feel the ground -- the ground moving," Marrero said. "You can hear the concussions. You could feel it. If you're on the range, you could feel it in your chest. That's the concussion from the explosion. It would rain, actually rain, bombs. And this would go on seven days a week."

    After years of controversy and protest, the Navy left Vieques in 2003. Today, much of the base is demolished, and what's left is largely overgrown. But the lawsuit remains, and island residents want help and compensation for numerous illnesses they say they suffer.

    "The people need the truth to understand what is happening to their bodies," said John Eaves Jr., the Mississippi attorney who represents the islanders in the lawsuit.

    Because he no longer lives on Vieques, Marrero is not one of the plaintiffs but has given sworn testimony in the case. He said the weapons used on the island included napalm; depleted uranium, a heavy metal used in armor-piercing ammunition; and Agent Orange, the defoliant used on the Vietnamese jungles that was later linked to cancer and other illnesses in veterans.

    "We used to store it in the hazardous material area," Marrero said. It was used in Vieques as a defoliant for the fence line.

    The military has never acknowledged a link between Marrero's ailments and his time at Vieques, so he receives few disability or medical benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Neither the Navy nor the Justice Department, which is handling the government's defense, would discuss the islanders' lawsuit with CNN.

    But Eaves said his clients don't believe that the military has fully disclosed the extent of the contamination on Vieques: "Like uranium was denied, then they admitted it."

    Dr. John Wargo, a Yale professor who studies the effects of toxic exposures on human health, says he believes that people on the island are sick because of the Navy's bombing range.
    Vieques ... is probably one of the most highly contaminated sites in the world.
    --Dr. John Wargo
    RELATED TOPICS

    * Vieques
    * U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
    * Vietnam War

    "Vieques, in my experience of studying toxic substances, is probably one of the most highly contaminated sites in the world," he said. "This results from the longevity of the chemical release, the bombs, the artillery shells, chemical weapons, biological weapons, fuels, diesel fuels, jet fuels, flame retardants. These have all been released on the island, some at great intensity."

    full article on CNN
     
  2. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Published on Thursday, March 4, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
    Paradise Lost: The Poisoning of Vieques
    by Robert C. Koehler

    We owe the residents of the tiny island paradise called Vieques full compensation for the illnesses they are suffering courtesy of the U.S. Navy - and we owe them so much more than that.

    We owe them a full accounting of what was done to their Manhattan-sized island, about 10 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico (the island is part of Puerto Rico and hence part of the United States) between 1941 and 2003, when it served as the Navy's premiere weapons testing site. Bombs were dropped and guns were tested on the eastern portion of the island at least 200 days out of the year for 62 years; an estimated 80 million tons of ordnance pummeled the island's fragile, tropical ecosystem over that time, contaminating soil, water and air, and bequeathing an array of serious health problems - cancer, birth defects, cirrhosis of the liver and much more - to the island's 10,000 residents.

    small excerpt of full article;
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/04-1
     
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