The Supreme Court recognised the epidemiological correlation between the toxic defoliant and skin diseases for the first time, saying the 39 victims should receive a total of 466 million won ($A454,445) from Dow Chemical and Monsanto.
The veterans had complained that Agent Orange was responsible for skin diseases such as “chemical acne”, which is caused by exposure to dioxin contained in Agent Orange, the court said.
Payment is now up to the US firms, but Dow Chemical said in a statement quoted by Yonhap news agency that it disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision as Friday’s verdict was not backed by clear evidence, citing US court rulings.
The South Korean court also reversed an appeals court verdict that the two firms should compensate thousands of other veterans who claimed to have similarly suffered from exposure to defoliants used during the Vietnam War.
But the Supreme Court, in its ruling on Friday, sent the case back to the appeals court for review.
“There is no evidence their diseases were caused by their exposure to the defoliant sprayed during the Vietnam War,” it said in a statement.
South Korea sent some 300,000 troops to fight alongside the United States and southern Vietnamese forces during the war.
Veterans in South Korea estimate the number of Korean victims of the chemicals at about 150,000. Many insisted they were suffering from various ailments associated with exposure to the powerful herbicide.
Vietnam says millions of its people have died or suffered from direct or second-generation disabilities as a result of the use of Agent Orange.
Washington has never accepted responsibility for the Vietnamese government’s claim.
Message From Resident Victims of EPA Superfund Site – 9/13/2009
Since its creation in 1916, for use as a chemical treatment facility for wood products, especially telephone poles and railroad ties using creosote, the officially federally (EPA) registered Cabot-Koppers Superfund (or Brownfields) site has been steadily and cumulatively chemically polluting Gainesville, to the point where this travesty can now no longer be ignored, having become a serious threat to the very future of Gainesville itself as a once pleasant place in which to live, to be educated, and to do business.
Lying just north-west of Downtown, the Cabot-Koppers site is STILL! being licensed by local authorities for the same industrial purpose, but it now uses an even more toxic and carcinogenic “chemical cocktail” known as Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA). This mix, used to protect “treated lumber”, is now known to present a major danger to Public Heath throughout the entire USA.
These, and multiple other such pollutants from Koppers, are officially known to be about to pollute the city’s very own water supply – the Murphree Aquifer. These chemicals also constantly run off into the large Floridan Aquifer via a natural creek system. Moreover, toxic, dioxin-laden dust has only just been officially recognized as being yet another major pollutant, with dire consequences to the health of ALL Gainesville citizens, including students of the University of Florida, which lies a mere 2 miles from the Cabot-Koppers site.
USAF Physician in Charge of Assessing Troop and Civilian Health Damage From Agent Orange
Dr. Joel Michalek listens to a reporter’s question during a press briefing on the Ranch Hand Study in the Pentagon on March 29, 2000.
The Ranch Hand Study, titled after the Vietnam operation of the same name, is the result of the 1997 physical examination of 2,300 Vietnam veterans exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Michalek is the U.S. Air Force Health Study senior principle investigator for the study. (source)