The Use of Herbicides at CFB Gagetown from 1952 to Present Day
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Agent Orange Ex-gratia Payment
The new deadline for applications is June 30, 2011.
On December 22, 2010, the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), announced that the Government of Canada is extending the one-time, tax-free ex gratia payment of $20,000 related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown in 1966 and 1967.
For more information on eligibility criteria, contact Veterans Affairs Canada by visiting www.vac-acc.gc.ca or calling 1-866-522-2122.
For three days in June 1966 and four days in June 1967, Agent Orange, Agent Purple and other unregistered herbicides were tested at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown in cooperation with the U.S. military to evaluate their effectiveness. These are the only known instances that these military test chemicals were used at CFB Gagetown. Agent Orange, Agent Purple and other unregistered herbicides are not used at the base today. The base uses only federally regulated herbicides for brush control during its annual vegetation management program.
In August 2005 the Department of National Defence, with participation from Veterans Affairs Canada, Health Canada, and additional departments and agencies, initiated a fact-finding mission to gain information on the history of herbicides tested and used at CFB Gagetown from 1952 to the present day, and the potential risks to human health and the environment. A major interdepartmental effort has occurred over the past two years to conduct the analysis necessary to provide all the facts.
An independent Fact-finding and Outreach Coordinator, Dr. Dennis Furlong, was named to oversee this process. His work included providing input on the plans and reports for each fact-finding task, as well as being the principal contact for those seeking information about herbicide testing and use at CFB Gagetown. The fact-finding tasks were conducted by contracted, highly qualified non-governmental experts.
The draft reports of the scientific research were peer-reviewed by qualified, independent experts. The contractors addressed their comments, and the final reports were provided directly and concurrently to the Ministers of National Defence, Veterans Affairs, and the Fact-finding and Outreach Coordinator. Reports involving human health aspects were also provided to the Minister of Health. The Fact-finding and Outreach Coordinator, accompanied by the appropriate experts, then shared the results of each report with the public.
All of the fact-finding tasks are now complete, and there is a much clearer understanding and greater knowledge of the testing and use of herbicides at CFB Gagetown. Scientific study from the excavations, soil, water and vegetation sampling, human health risk assessments, and the epidemiological study indicates that most people who lived near or worked at CFB Gagetown were not at risk for long-term health effects from the herbicides applied there. The science also indicates that the base is safe today.
Results of the Fact-finding Tasks
As part of the fact-finding initiative, the Department of National Defence committed to producing a comprehensive list of individuals and military units who were present at CFB Gagetown during the testing of Agent Orange, Agent Purple and other herbicides in 1966 and 1967, and during the eight to 12 weeks per year (between June and August) from 1952 to the present day when application of herbicides took place.
The contractor for this task, Canadian Development Consultants International Inc, compiled a database with relevant information on more than 115,000 individuals. Information that was not deemed to be of a personal nature (this includes such information as the names, ranks and units of some individuals, as well as the dates they were in Gagetown) was made public. Personal information (this includes such things as age, employee numbers, home addresses and family information) will not be made public.
Any information collected from individuals by the Fact-finding and Outreach Coordinator's office is also considered personal and will not be made public. Individuals who wish to submit a request for personal information may do so under the Privacy Act through the Directorate Access to Information and Privacy at National Defence.
The objective of this task was to review the history of the use of herbicides at the CFB Gagetown range and training area from 1952 to the present day, to compile a comprehensive database for this information, and to provide information on the types of herbicides used and how they were used.
The contractor, Jacques Whitford, determined that aside from the military products used in the herbicide trials in 1966 and 1967, the herbicides applied at CFB Gagetown over the past fifty years were regulated and commonly used across Canada. The herbicide application program at CFB Gagetown followed the policies, science, and best practices of the time, as regulated by Federal and Provincial governments. Where specific information could be obtained from historical records, rates of application of herbicides used at CFB Gagetown were either within, or in many instances lower than, the recommended application rates suggested by the manufacturer.
The purpose of this task was to conduct an environmental site assessment of the range and training area at CFB Gagetown.
Based on the laboratory tests, only concentrations of dioxins and arsenic in some of the soil samples exceeded the Canadian soil quality guidelines. The highest concentrations of dioxins in soil were found in the location of the 1967 test plots. Concentrations slightly above Canadian guidelines of dioxins in soil were also found in the Clones bivouac site, the Murphy bivouac site, the Enniskillen
Range, the 1966 test plots, and four other discrete sites in the range and training area. In a proactive precautionary measure, DND temporarily restricted site access to areas where dioxins concentrations were the highest (1967 test plots), as well as where human exposure to surface soils would be the most concentrated (in the bivouacs) until the results of a site specific risk assessment were completed. Further study determined that the dioxin levels in these areas posed no risk to human health.
Groundwater and surface water samples had concentrations of dioxins less than the Ontario Ministry of the Environment drinking water quality objective, which was used as a comparison due to the absence of a Canadian drinking quality guideline.
This task aimed to conduct a barrel investigation, and excavation program and analysis. During the excavation process, no herbicide barrels were discovered.
This task modelled how herbicides migrated through the air from aerial application in order to provide exposure scenarios for the health risk assessment identified in Task 3A-1.
The goal of this task was to assess whether herbicides and associated contaminants may have migrated through groundwater and/or surface water.
The contractor for this task, Jacques Whitford, concluded that it would be difficult, expensive and take considerable time to quantitatively estimate surface water migration. It is not possible to quantitatively estimate groundwater migration due to the variability of conditions across the base and the lack of adequate data on soils and geology. Cantox Environmental used the Jacques Whitford scoping report, together with a qualitative approach, to eliminate the water exposure pathway from further consideration in the health risk assessments.
The objective of this task was to conduct a historical human health risk assessment to determine how humans may have been exposed to herbicides and military test chemicals at the time of use, and the potential risks to human health. This study was done in three tiers. Tier 1 concentrated on the contaminants related to the 1966 and 1967 testing of unregistered military chemicals. Tiers 2 and 3 concentrated on all other years of registered herbicide use.
The contractor for this task, Cantox Environmental, concluded that the military chemicals tested at CFB Gagetown in 1966 and 1967, the known contaminants in the herbicides used at CFB Gagetown during the annual spray program in the period prior to the late 1960s, and the active ingredients in the herbicides used at CFB Gagetown during the annual spray program posed no long-term risk to human health and safety for most individuals. Those who were directly involved during applications or who worked in the bush immediately after application may have some increased risk. The contractor also concluded that the known contaminants in the herbicides used at CFB Gagetown during the annual spray program after the late 1960s posed no long-term risk to human health and safety.
For this task, a present day contaminated site human health risk assessment, using data gathered from Task 2B, was conducted to assess current exposures and human health risks for all contaminants of potential concern identified in the water, soil, sediment, and vegetation environmental media sampled and analyzed at CFB Gagetown.
The results of this task indicate there is currently no risk to human health (as a result of herbicide use) in the areas of the base where access was restricted as a precautionary measure following the environmental site assessment.
The objective of this task was to perform a literature review of all epidemiologic studies examining the relationship between herbicides (those applied at CFB Gagetown) and human health, and to conduct a descriptive epidemiological study to determine whether the communities surrounding CFB Gagetown had a higher incidence of illness as compared to the general population of the province of New Brunswick.
The contractor for Task 3B, Dalhousie University led by Dr. Judy Guernsey, concluded that the communities surrounding CFB Gagetown do not have a significantly higher incidence of illness, as compared to the province of New Brunswick.
A consolidated report for all parts of Task 3 was completed. This report includes the results of the epidemiology research integrated with the results of the human health risk assessments.
The purpose of Task 4 was to provide information on tissue dioxin concentrations in fish and freshwater clams sampled within the CFB Gagetown Range and Training Area. These data provide estimates to whether there is a potential risk to humans from consumption of fish and freshwater clams at CFB Gagetown.
The contractor for Task 4, G.A. Packman and Associates, concluded that the levels of dioxins in fish and freshwater clams at CFB Gagetown were either below or consistent with regulated limits and values for fish and freshwater clams from other locations.
DND Wide Herbicide Use Project
In 2006, Golder Associates Ltd. (Golder) was retained by Public Works and Government Services Canada on a series of contracts on behalf of the Department of National Defence (DND) to research, organise and analyse all available information concerning the herbicides used at each Canadian Forces (CF) site across Canada. An objective of this undertaking was to confirm whether tactical herbicides such as Agent Orange and Agent Purple tested in 1966 and 1967 at CFB Gagetown were ever tested at other current and former CF Bases, Stations or Wings.
Golder’s review of the information has found no evidence of spray applications of the tactical herbicides Agent Orange or Agent Purple at any Bases, Stations or Wings aside from CFB Gagetown. Records do indicate that the non-tactical and commercially available herbicides 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D were potentially concurrently used, stored or disposed at each of Carp (Ontario), CFB Chatham and CFB Gagetown (New Brunswick), CFB Borden (Ontario) and another unidentified site.
As such, evidence to-date is to the effect that Agent Orange and Agent Purple were only applied at CFB Gagetown.