Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada


From the RBL

During the period 1952 to 2005 the herbicide Agent Orange (the name comes from the orange stripe on the container drum) and its derivates were used experimentally and then generally as herbicides at the CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada, training area. The period of highest risk was during 1966/67, when Agent Orange itself was in use. The risk from the herbicide derivatives is considered by the Canadian authorities to be negligible. It is now generally known that the constituents used in the production of Agent Orange, one of which is dioxin, can be hazardous to human health. The fact came to note particularly in connection with the use by the US Armed Forces during the War in Vietnam, where Agent Orange was used freely as a defoliant in support of military operations.

From 1966 until 1986 (and perhaps later) a number of British units used the training area and were possibly exposed to either Agent Orange or the herbicide derivatives and could therefore, perhaps, be at risk of suffering from a number of medical conditions as a result. From documents received from Canada it would appear that the UK units involved during the whole period are recorded as follows:

Queens Own Buffs
24 Field Squadron RE
2 Scots Guards (*July 1966)
32 Field Squadron RE (1964 and *1967)
48 Field Squadron RE (*1966)
49 Field Squadron RE
1 Green Howards (*1967)
1 South Wales Borderers
50 Field Squadron (Construction) RE (*1966)
41 Commando Royal Marines
53 Field Squadron, 39 Regiment RE
9 Parachute Squadron RE
Royal Hampshires
39 Regiment RE
69 Independent Gurkha Squadron RE

* Denotes the period of greatest risk when Agent Orange itself was being used.

The above list is from Canadian sources but it might not be definitive.

Further information has been received from the Canadian authorities giving a list of medical conditions which could result from exposure to Agent Orange and the list appears below. This list has been accepted by the Canadian authorities as Related to Agent Orange exposure at CFB Gagetown and therefore compensation in the form of pensions is being paid to their military personnel who suffer from one of these conditions; providing that the claimant can establish that they served at CFB Gagetown during the relevant periods. However, the list of conditions has not been considered by the UK Veterans Agency and neither is it known whether any UK Service personnel or Veterans have been affected by such exposure.

The list of medical conditions recognised by the Canadian authorities as being associated with exposure to Agent Orange is:

• Soft tissue sarcoma
• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
• Hodgkin’s disease
• Choloracne
• Respiratory cancers
• Prostate cancer
• Multiple myeloma
• Type 2 diabetes
• Porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT)
• Acute and sub-acute transient peripheral neuropathy
• [In addition the US authorities recognise certain birth defects in the children of female veterans].

However, this list should be viewed with caution in UK terms and used as a guide only because different legislation applies in the UK and it does not necessarily follow that awards can be made under the UK War Disablement Pension scheme, merely because these conditions are recognised by the US and Canada, as being attributable to Agent Orange. The burden of proof will rest with the claimant to establish the exposure and the outcome but clearly, the experience in the USA and Canada could be taken into account by the UK Veterans Agency, when assessing War Disablement Pension claims.

It is not clear at present whether UK Service personnel will be eligible to claim under the Canadian disability pension scheme but it is felt that this would be unlikely, if a Status of Forces Agreement was in place at the time.

There might also be the possibility for individuals to make a legal claim for damages in respect of any illness sustained resulting from exposure to Agent Orange but if so, the likelihood is that this action will need to be taken in the Canadian jurisdiction under Canadian law but this has not been confirmed at present. In addition, is important to bear in mind that any such legal claim would have to be funded by the individuals making the claim.

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