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Use and effects of chemical agents on Australian personnel in Vietnam-Royal Commission (Hon. Mr Justice P. Evatt) - Final report, dated 31 July 1985 - Report - Volume 1 - Introduction and exposure

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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia


Commissioner: The Hon. Mr Justice P. Evatt, DSC, LLB

Final Report-July 1985

Volume 1: Introduction and Exposure

Presented 22 August 1985 Ordered to be printed 19 September 1985


Parliamentary Paper No. 288/1985



Commissioner: The Hon. Mr Justice Phillip Evatt DSC, LLB.

A Judge of the Federal Court of Australia


July 1985


Australian Government Publishing Service Canberra 1985

© Commonwealth of Australia 1985

ISBN 0 644 04339 3

1SBN 0 644 04340 7

Set of Volumes Report Volume One

Printed by Canberra Publi shing and Printing Co .. Fyshwick . A.C.T.


Commissioner: The l-Ion. Mr Justice Phillip Evatt DSC

Secretary: Mr B. D . Meade

31 July 1985

Your Excellency,

G.P.O. Box .:lX --12 Sydney. N.S .\V . 200 1 Telephone: (02) 2.)'! (, 222

In accordance with Letters Patent issued to me on 13 May 1983, 27 June 1984, 3 August 1984 and 23 April 1985, I

have the honour to present to you the Final Report of my inquiry. I believe that the Report complies with those Letters Patent and that my task is therefore completed.

Yours sincerely

JUSTICE PHILLIP EVATT Royal Commissioner ·

His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Ninian Stephen, A.K., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.B.E. Governor-General and Commander-in-chief Government House



Volume 1

Table of Contents. Report

Senior Appointments

Part-time Consultants





1. Letters Patent and Appearances 2. Concern Over Chemicals 3. History of Chemical Use

4. The Vietnam Conflict

5. Use of Herbicides in Vietnam

6 . Geography of Vietnam

7. Use of Insecticides in Vietnam

B. The Controversy in the United States

9. The Controversy in Australia 10. The Commission's Approach Endnotes





Introduction Relevance of Repatriation Legislation Relevance of Epidemiological Studies Endnotes










11 16 21 31

33 34 46 57 66



17 27









Introduction Written Submissions from Persons Seeking Leave to Appear VVAA's Case Monsanto's Case

Submissions from Individuals Informal Sessions 6 . 1 Introduction 6.2 Locations and Methods The Issues Endnotes





Chemicals Used 1.1 'Colour-coded' herbicides Why were Herbicides Used? 1 . 2 Other Herbicides

Tordon Borate Chlorate Distillate-Creosote Hyvar X(Bromacil) Paraquat(Gramaxone) Diquat (Reglone) Evidence at Formal Hearings 1.3 Insecticides Exposure Models

Dr Donald Crosby Dr Hermann Poiger Dr Ian Munro Professor Bo Holmstedt Dr Frank M. Dost

2,4-D and 2,4,5-T F'ood Inhalation Sprayers Evidence of John Bamford Direct Aerial Exposure

3.1 HERBS Tapes Analysis 3.2 Spray Drift and Volatilisation 3.3 C Co 5 RAR - August, 1969

3.4 Participation in Helicopter Spraying John Farquhar McMahon Clive Francis Cotter John Cecil Rhodes Michael John Haxell 3.5 Evidence of veterans








11 20 22



33 34 38 42 43 46 47 58 64 88 88 92 99 101 104 107 112 112 113 113 116 117 123 132 137 137 138 139 142 144



6 .



Nui Dat Incidents 4.1 Rubber trees

William Orril Rodgers Raymond Arthur Daniel Ronald Bruce Harris Stanford Radley Freeman 4.2 Dam/water Supply 4.3 Perimeter Spraying

4.4 Holt/Lugg Trials Indirect Exposure S.1 Transit Through Defoliated Areas S.2 Exposure via Food

S . 3 Exposure via Water

S.4 Exposure via Soil SAFETY PRECAUTIONS 6.1 Instructions Manual of Army Safety, 1970

Current Instructions Personnel Engaged in Spraying 6.2 Observance DISPOSAL OF SURPLUS CHEMICALS

146 146 147 148

152 1S5 1S9 161 164 181 190

194 199 204 208

214 ?.20 220 27.1

224 227

7.1 Disposal of the 'colour - coded' 7.2 Disposal of surplus Australian 7.3 Insecticides 7.4 Lack of VVAA Contribution


herbicides 227 herbicides 228 229 230

8.1 Insecticides 8.2 Herbicides 8.3 Pesticides Generally 9. RECOMMENDATIONS I<;NDNO'I'r:S

233 234 235 238 240






1 Introduction

II Standard of Proof

III Ascertainment of Claims IV Exposure


V Toxicology and Safe Doses

VI Health Effects General


VII Health Effects. Reproductive Outcomes and Birth Anomalies


VIII Health Effects, Cancer


IX Health Effects. Mental


X Mortality

XI Class Action

XII Status of VVAA XIII Interim Report and S.47


XIV Benefits and Treatment


XV Conclusions and Recommendations Epilogue





Senior Counsel Assisting and Principal Investigator:

John Coombs QC. LLB.


Bryan D. Meade.

Junior Counsel and Investigators:

Max Kimber LLB. LLM. Graham Ellis AlA. AIAA. B.Com. LLB. AASA.

Solicitor to the Commission: John McCorquodale MA. LLM.

Associate to the Commissioner:

Gregory Harris BBS. LLB.

Project Officer. Legal:

Michael Wilde LLB.





Birth and Reproductive Outcomes -Fiona STANLEY MB BS, MSc, MFCM.

Neurotoxicology - Norman ALDRIDGE BSc, PhD.

Carcinogenesis - Philippe SHUBIK BM, BCh, PhD, DM.

Genetic Toxicology - Ian MUNRO BSc, MSc, PhD.

Background Adviser - Alvin YOUNG PhD.


ADENA, Michael Anthony BSc(Hons), PhD. ANDREWS, John Gavin MD, FRANZCP, FRCP. ARMSTRONG, Bruce Konrad MB BS, PhD, MRACP. AXELSON, Nils Olav Evert MD. BARSOTTI, Deborah Ann BA, PhD. BLACK, Allan BSc(Hons), PhD, MB BS. BOMAN, Bruce, MB BS, MRANZCP. BRUSICK, David Joseph BS MS, PhD. CHEW, Wee - Lek BSc(Hons) PhD. CROSBY, Donald Gibson BA, PhD. DAUM, Susan M MD. DAVIES, William BSc(Hons) MAPS. DONOVAN, John Windeyer MB BS, PhD, FFCM, FRACMA. DOST, !''rank Norman BS, DVM, MS. DOULL, I MD, PhD. ELLARD, John MD, BS, DPM, FRACP, l''RANZCP, FRCP, MAPS. FERGUSON, David MD. FETT, Michael Jacob MB(Hons) BS(Hons) BMSc(Hons), MPH. F'RAUMENI, Joe MD. HALL, Wayne Dennis BSc, PhD. HARDELL. Lennart MD. HATCH. Maureen PhD. HAY, Alastair Watt Macintyre BSc, PhD . HOLMSTEDT, Bo Roland MD.


JACOBS, Patricia Ann BSc, DSc. KAHN. Colin Nicholas (Brig.) KEANI!:, Ter-ence M. PhD. KIMBROUGH, R D Renate MD.

LARSSON, Kar( Sune DDS, PhD. LEVINSON, John M, MD . McCONNELL, Ernst MS, DVM. McMICHAEL Tony MB BS. PEARN. John MD, AM, BSc, PhD, DCM, FRACP. POIGER. Hermann PhD. QUINN, James T MB, MD, DPM. MRC. Psych. REGGIANI, Guiseppe MD. RICHARDS, John Alan BE, PhD. SMIEEC, F'IREE. RIEDEL. Dieter MSc, PhD. RODGERS, William Orril (Brig.) MB BS, Dep TMH, FRACP. ROGERS, Lesley Joy BSc, PhD.

SCHNEIDERMAN, Marvin Arthur MS BS . PhD, SMITH, Allan Herries BSc, BMSc, MB, ChB, PhD, MCCM(NZ) SPRAGG, Griffith Silas MB, BS, DPM, FRANZCP. STEIN. Zena Athene. BA, MA, MB, BCh. STEWART, Bernard William BSc, MSc, PhD. STREIMER. Jeffrey Harry MB BS, MRANZCP. TAYLOR, James Selwyn MD. TEPE, Susan PhD. TUCHMANN - DUPLESSIS, H MD, PhD.


2,4,5 - T 2.4 - D AAAS







2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid American Association for the Advancement of Science Administrative Appeals Tribunal Australian Army Training Team to Vietnam Australian Army Training Team Vietnam Association Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Capital Territory Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Australian Forces Vietnam Australian Infantry Force(s} Accuracy in Media, Inc. - see Exh. 498

Australian Logistics Support Group Australian Military Forces Agent Orange Working Group Administrative Review Council Australian Regiment Vietnam Australian Task Force Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council Aus t ralian Veteran's Health Studies Benzpyrene Baden Aniline and Soda Factory Ltd Benzene Hexachloride Baby Hamster Kidney Central Army Records Office Central Intelligence Agency Combined Intelligence Centre, Vietnam Commonwealth Institute of Health Central Nervous System Commander. Australian Force Vietnam Commanding Officer U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam Determining Authority Dayton, Ohio Dibutyl Phthalate dichloro- diphenyl - trichloro-ethane Diethyl-m- Toluamide Departmental Medical Officer Dimethyl Phthalate Dimethyl Sulphoxide deoxyribo Nucleic acid Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Department of Veterans' Affairs Dow Chemical Company Electro Encephalographic Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.} Food and Agricultural Organisation

(U.N.} Far East Land Forces



















Federal Drugs Association (U.S.) Freedom of Information Act Field Operational Research Section Free World Military Assistance Forces Helicopter Insecticide Dispersal Apparatus

Liquid Headquarters Australian Forces Vietnam Headquarters Australian Regiment Vietnam International Agency for Research on Cancer

International Classification of Diseases International Commission for Protection Against Envi ronment Mutagens and Carcinogens. Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives

(U.N.) Joint Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues (U.N . ) Australian Joint Service Publication,

Pesticides Manual Jungle Training Camp Jungle Warfare Training Centre Local Dental Officer

Local Medical Officer Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Military Assistance Service Fund Mobile Advisory Training Teams Multi-chlorinated phenoxy acids

Medical Officer Mid-West Research Institute National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) National Aeronautics and Space

Administration (U.S . ) National Cancer Institute National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam

National Health and Medical Research Council National of Environment Health

Sciences (U.S.) National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (U.S.) National Liberation Front No Effect Level

National Research Council (Canada) National Security Council of the United States National Toxicology Program (U.S.) Officer Commanding

Para - aminobiphenyl Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Peoples' Army of Vietnam

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Rest and Recreation Leave Royal Australian Air Force Royal Australian Army Medical Corps








VVRDB WHO ZUR cadodylic acid dab defense

loc stat

picloram ppm ppt

Royal Australian Army Service Corps Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Royal Australian Regiment Royal Australian Regiment and New Zealand Combined Battalion (ANZAC) Repatriation General Hospital Ribo Nucleotide Acid Repatriation Review Tribunal Returned Services League of Australia Republic of Vietnam Scientific Advisory Committee (Australia) Sister Chromatid Exchanges Service Classification Record The Surveillance Epidemiology and End Result Program San r'rancisco Senior Medical Officer Standardised Mortality Ratio St. Louis Soft Tissue Sarcoma South Vietnam Tactical Area of Responsibility

Todd Insecticide Fogging Apparatus United Nations United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States Air Force Department of Veterans ' Administration (U.S.) Vietnam Veterans' Association of Australia Vietnam Veterans' Counselling Service Vietnam Veterans Royal Commission - this Royal Commission Vietnam Veterans' Registration Data Base World Health Organisation

Zurich hydroxydimethyarsine oxide p - dimethylaminoazobenzine Department of Defense Location statement

4 - amino- 3,5,6- trichloropicolinic acid Parts per million Parts per trillion



To recognise appropriately the many people who

assisted this lnquiry would take more time and space

can be afforded. Many people have made submissions

given evidence. Many others have also given time

effort. The Commissioner records his gratitude to all.

have than and and

Mr Derek Volker. the Secretary of the Department of

Veterans' Affairs and his officers whilst scrupulously observing the independence of the Commission have rendered every assistance and support.

Professor J D Mathews. Principal Consultant, and

Dr Fiona Stanley, Senior Consultant on Reproductive

Outcomes. deserve special mention. They have given time unstint ingly and performed an educative role behind the scenes that has been of inestimable value.

Mr Bryan Meade, the Secretary. has

Commission with great skill and cost

staff selection has been magnificent. administered efficiency.

the His

The secretarial staff richly deserve mention by name.

Ms Valerie Majkus. the Commissioner's personal secretary. has been tireless. Ms Liz Pearce. Ms Sally Miller and

Ms Lesley Diskin contributed cheerfully and efficiently. The team which put the final work on paper Ms Ma j kus.

Mrs Gladys Stahl and Ms Tricia Mohan amazed the

Commission. not only with their competence and their

capacity to work 12 hour days 7 days a week at the word

processors. but especially with their unfailing good

humour under great pressure. Judi Franklin has kept track of our documents despite persistent unrecorded removal from the stacks by Counsel.

Final proof-reading Mr Michael Brown and


by Mr

Associate Jeff Rose

Greg also

Harris. deserves

Of its legal team the Commissioner merely says that he got

the professional competence he expected and in full









No grievance should ever arise in the

Commonwealth but when complaints are

freely heard. deeply considered. and

speedily reformed. then is the utmost bound of civil liberty attained that wise men look for.

John Milton. Areopagitica

Although Agent Orange was but one of the chemical agents

about which this Royal Commission was concerned. it was

that which. in the main. triggered the Inquiry; that which

undoubtedly has been the greatest cause of anxiety to

Vietnam veterans and their families regarding possible

effects of such chemical agents on them and their

children; and that which has occupied the greatest portion of the Commission's investigative time and deliberations.

The tragedy of the Agent Orange controversy is that

Vietnam veterans were doubly vulnerable.

First. they were raised in the era of environmental

upsurge. when pollution in general and chemicals in

particular were "to blame". The "natural" was better than the "unnatural" and use of the "artificial" or "synthetic"

was said to be heinous. greedy and usually capitalistic


and multi-national as well. This bias is convincingly if

somewhat over - aggressively rebutted by Edith Efron in "The


. 2

Apoca ypt1cs".

Second, conflict had taken its toll on many of them, as it

had on their fathers and their shell - shocked

grandfathers. But their forebears came home heroes, the

conquerors of Kaiser- Bill. Hitler and Tojo: their

wounds, visible and invisible, could be worn with pride.

We sent the cream of our youth, with strong value systems

and a belief in themselves and those values. to Vietnam.

We trained them to kill men. They learnt by necessity to

kill women and children. They saw in the co- incidence of

contest and village home-life (which is guerilla warfare)

and in like fighting like, the futility of the conflict

and of their participation in that conflict.

When they returned to Australia they were ostracized by

many and any sense of purpose in their sacrifice


Is it any wonder that they felt poisoned?





With respectful acknowledgement to the

inscription on the empty tomb of an unknown

soldier of the Vietnam War. Arlington Cemetery, Washington DC, USA.

Efron, Edith, "The

Schuster. NYC 1984.


Apocalyptics". Simon &

















On the 13th May 1983. by Letters Patent the

Governor-General appointed me a Commissioner to inquire

into the use and effects of chemical agents on Australian personnel in Vietnam.

The Letters Patent which are entered on Record in Register

of Patents No 18, p 167. were in the following terms: -

THE SECOND, By the Grace of God Queen

of Australia and Her other Realms and

Territories, Head of the Commonwealth: '1'0



WE DO by these Our Letters Patent issued in Our

name by Our Governor-·General of the Commonwealth of Australia on the advice of the Federal

Executive Council and in pursuance of the

Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. the Commissions Act 1902 and other enabling

powers, appoint you to be a Commissioner to

inquire, for the purposes of the exercise and

performance of the powers and functions of the

Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth. into the following matters. namely -(a) the use of chemical agents in the course of

hostilities in Vietnam during the period

commencing on 31 July 1962 and ending at the


expiration of 11 January 1973, insofar as

they may have affected Australian personnel;

(b) the effects on Australian personnel of

exposure to the chemical agents used; and

(c) the operation and administration of the

Repatriation Act 1920, the Repatriation

(Special Overseas Service) Act 1962 and any other relevant Acts, as applicable to claims by Australian personnel of chemical-caused disabilities: AND, without restricting the scope of your

inquiry, We direct you to inquire particularly

into the following matters, namely -(d) the conditions in which Australian personnel served in Vietnam; (e) the nature, scale, purpose and manner of use

of chemical agents; (f) the periods during which chemical agents

were used, the locations of use, their

subsequent spread and the location from time to time of Australian personnel; (g) the extent to which adequate safety

precautions were taken and the extent to

which adequate action was taken when any

possible harmful effect of chemical agents became known; (h) the toxic properties, resulting from use

separately or in combination, in relation to humans of each of the chemical agents used,

with particular emphasis on, but not limited to, any direct or indirect carcinogenic,

mutagenic, teratogenic or neurotoxic

properties and the extent and duration of

exposure necessary to affect humans; (i) evidence relating to the effects of any

exposure to chemical agents on the mental

and physical health and well - being of

Austral ian personnel and any effects on the mental and physical health and well-being of their spouses; (j) evidence relating to the extent to which

exposure to the chemical agents used has

resulted in congeni ta 1 anomalies among the children of Australian personnel;


(k) notwithstanding any limitations contained in paragraph (a). the nature and extent of the

safety precautions taken, during the

disposal at any time by or on behalf of

Australia of surplus chemical agents that

were in Vietnam during the period commencing on 31 July 1962 and ending at the expiration

of 11 January 1973:

AND We declare that in these Our Letters Patent -

( 1) the expression "Australian personnel" means any persons, including members of the

Austral ian Defence Force. who were engaged in performing defence service or any other

function for or on behalf of Australia in

Vietnam, whether as employees or otherwise; (m) the expression "chemical agents" includes

any herbicides (including defoliants).

insecticides or chemical irritants; and (n) the expression "Vietnam" means the areas

specified in the First and Fifth Schedules

to the Repatriation (Special Areas)

Regulations in force under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service} Act 1962:

AND We require you to make such recommendations arising out of your inquiry as you think

appropriate, including recommendations regarding the legislative or administrative changes, if

any. that are necessary or desirable and the

adequacy of present assistance available to

Australian personnel: AND, in particular. We require you to make such

recommendations as you consider appropriate in relation to assistance which any Government

Department may be able to give relating to the

health problems of Australian personnel and the power of a Department to grant, and the adequacy

of the present method of granting, assistance.

with a view to ensuring that Australian personnel receive the full benefit of all available

assistance: AND We direct that, in making your inquiry, you

have regard to any other matters which may appear to you to be relevant to any of paragraphs (a} to

(k) (inclusive):


AND We further

inquiry, you have the Defence Force reports relating chemical agents:

direct that. in making your

regard to the records kept by

and to published studies and

to the use and effects of

AND We require you as expeditiously as possible to make your inquiry and, not later than 30 June

1984 or such later date as We may be pleased to

fix, to furnish to Our Governor-General of the

Commonwealth of Australia a report of the results of your inquiry and your recommendations.

WITNESS His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Ninian Martin Stephen, a member of Her

Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Knight of the Order of Australia, Knight

Grand Cross of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight

Grand Cross of The Royal Victorian Order,

Knight Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Most

Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint

John of Jerusalem, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia and

Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force

Dated this thirteenth day of May 1983.



By His Excellency's Command,

(Signed} Prime Minister

These Letters Patent in this script were varied by Letters

Patent dated 27 June 1984. By Letters Patent dated 3

August 1984 the Letters Patent of 27 June were withdrawn

and the initial Letters Patent were confirmed but varied

so as to require reporting by 30 April 1985.


By Letters Patent dated 23 April 1985 the reporting date

was extended to 31 July 1985.

Mr J S Coombs Q.C., Mr M Kimber and Mr G Ellis were

appointed by the Federal Attorney-General pursuant to s

6FA. of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cwlth) to assist

the Commission.

At its first formal hearing on 14 July 1983 leave was

granted to the following Counsel and Solicitor to appear

for certain chemical companies and associations, namely:

(a) Mr A. Shand Q.C. with Mr D. Officer for Dow Chemical

(Australia) Ltd and for The Dow Chemical Company, an

American Company;

(b) Mr B.S.J. O'Keefe Q.C. with Mr J.M. Stowe for Monsanto

Australia Limited;

(cj Mr McPhee Q.C. with Mr K. Haynes for ICI Australia

Limited and for Imperial Chemical Industries PLC


I - 5

(d) Mr A. Mcinnes Q.C. with Mr A. Hill and Miss s. Ward

for the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia

(VVAA) which was claimed by Mr Mcinnes to be, "an

Australia-wide organization of nine thousand members

having a very real interest in the matter before the


(e) Mr Lonnie, Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme

Court of Western Australia on behalf of some four

hundred Vietnam veterans resident mainly in Western

Australia, some three hundred and fifty of their wives

and some four hundred of their children. being members

of the class forming the plaintiffs in the Agent

Orange class action commenced in U.S.A. against

several chemical companies. This class action is

discussed fully later in this Report.

On 12 October 1983 the Commission received a communication

from the Solicitor instructing Mr Shand Q.C. that Dow

Chemical (Australia) and The Dow Chemical Company

no longer wished to take an active part in the proceedings

before the Commission. Thereafter those two companies did

not take any active part in the proceedings other than

lodging a written b . . 1 SU mlSSlOn which dealt with one

chemical only, namely Tordon SO-D which is a registered

trade mark of The Dow Chemical Company of a mixture of


picloram and 2.4-D, stated to have been developed for use

as a commercial herbicide and to have been registered in

Australia for some twenty years before 1983.

In addition. the Commission received from The Dow Chemical

Company of Michigan. U. S.A. under cover of a letter dated

4 October 1984 signed by Mr Charles c. Carey, Staff

Counsel. Legal Department. a copy of a document entitled

"Final Report on Propellant Combustion Product

Analyses" 2 prepared by liT Research Institute, Chicago,

Illinois in preparation of The Dow Chemical Company's

defence in the American Agent Orange class action.

I t is convenient now to indicate that shortly after the

commencement of the taking of formal evidence on 16

January 1984 the legality and representative status of

WAA began to cause concer·n to the Commission. This

problem is discussed in detail later.

Further, the Returned Services League of Australia Inc .• (RSL). had at about the t i me of the announcement of the

Royal Commission made a deliberate decision not to seek

leave to appear before it. The reasons for this decision

(other than media announcements in May- July 1983 3 ) are

unknown but the decision was a disappointment. It had


been hoped that the Commission would receive full

assistance and helpful advice from this organization in respect of a 11 rna t ters raised by the Terms of Reference

and particularly those raised in paragraph (c).

The RSL, then called the Returned Soldiers and Sailors

Imperial League of Australia, was formed during World War

I following a meeting of soldiers in Melbourne on 6 June

1916. Shortly thereafter. a meeting was held in Sydney.

Membership was open to soldiers and sailors who had seen

service in New Guinea in the early years of that war and

later extended to soldiers and sailors who had fought at

Gallipoli and elsewhere overseas. Boer War returnees were also permitted to join.

In the mid 1920s the name of the organization was changed

to the Returned Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Imperial

League of Australia with branches in all States. the name

"The Returned Services League of Australia" being adopted

in 1965.

In 1983. membership of the RSL included veterans who had

seen overseas service in the Boer War. World War I. World

War II, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam. Full membership is now

also open to servicemen who served only on Australian



The present total membership of the RSL is some 270,000

including 12,000 Vietnam veterans. 4

Over the years the RSL has had very extensive experience

in assisting veterans with claims for repatriation

benefits and has been a powerful lobby group in respect of

pension rights and the like.

The Commission regrets the non-appearance of this

organization. A document over the signature af the

National President of the RSL, Sir William Keys OBE, MC,

dated 25 November 1983, was forwarded to the Commission

wherein certain suggestions were put forward. This

document although not purporting to be a formal submission

to the Commission, has been accepted and marked Exhibit



The establishment of the Royal Commission by the newly

elected Labor Government following its election in early March 1983 after some 7 years in Opposition was a response

to increasing controversy over the use of chemical

substances by the United States and its allies, including


Australia, in South Vietnam. The controversy had reached

its Australian peak during the 1983 election campaign. The VVAA for some years immediately before the election had

been vocal in criticism of what it described as the

Liberal/National Parties ' Coalition Government's

. . . . . . . 1 . 5

procrast1nat1on 1n recogn1z1ng 1ts "JUSt c a1ms."

During the late 1960s and the early 1970s the use of

chemicals in Vietnam had become a matter of intense

political, media and public interest in Australia as well as overseas. It focused at first on riot control agents

and pesticides but amongst pesticides, herbicides came to

be singled out for attention.

Such interest ranged from serious professional concern at

possible environmental and health hazards, through

allegations of chemical warfare, to less responsible

allegations and hysteria. It continued spasmodically

through the mid 1970s until late 1978 when Agent Orange

become a focus of particular interest. Agent Orange, a

50-SO mixture of two commonly used phenoxy herbicides,

2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T, was widely used as a defoliant during

the Vietnam conflict. The history of the controversy, both

in the United States and in Australia, is dealt with later

in this Chapter.



Chemicals have been used for the control of unwanted

vegetation and for the control of insects for many

decades. As early as 1896 a French viticulturist observed

that wild mustard was selectively killed by a newly

discovered fungicide, Bordeaux mixture . 6

F'or insect control the spraying of toxic liquids using

pumping equipment driven by engines and even thousands of

feet of hose was accepted practice as early as the 1920s

but the expense of such practices led to a drive to

develop aeroplanes as a means of dusting or spraying spans

of trees.

In Troy, Ohio, a 1921 infestation of sphinx caterpillars

inspired the conducting of a series of experiments. These

involved the use of a Curtiss Jn 6 aircraft flying 25 feet

above the treetops at a speed of 80 miles per hour whilst

a crank on a 32 gallon hopper dissipated toxic dust

containing lead arsenate, over and into the trees below.

Six days after the dusting 99\ of the destructive

caterpillars had been killed, the total time taken to

apply the dust being less than 1 minute. The age of the


aircraft as a delivery vehicle for agricultural chemicals 0 7

had arr1ved.

In 1926 F.W. Went discovered the first plant hormone,

auxin. This was a naturally occurring hormone but was

identified with indole-3-acetic acid, a chemical which had then been in use as a synthetic product for some time.

A number of other chemical compounds had physiological

properties similar to those of auxin. In the 1940s

related compounds, namely, chlorinated phenoxy-acetic acids were found to possess similar auxin activity but

were selective in their operation, (i.e. they killed some

vegetation and not others), and, accordingly, they proved

extremely useful.

These compounds were 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. The former became

the most widely used commercial herbicide in the world and

the latter was also widely used, particuarly as a killer

of brush and woody plants which were resistant to


2. 4-D. A third important compound also widely used in

the Vietnam conflict was picloram. This herbicide was

discovered later than 2.4-D and 2,4,5-T and is chemically

unrelated to them. However, it resembles them


possessing auxin capacity and in its selectivity range.



A general plant k i.ller, cacodylic acid was also used for

military purposes in South Vietnam but this compound does not have the same degree of selectivity exhibited by the

other three.

It is · no surprise that as crop-dusting technology

developed, military interest in its use was awakened. A

study in 1933 10 reveals not only intense interest in

lethal and non-lethal chemical spraying but also that

basic principles for aerial chemical delivery had been

ascertained. These included low altitude, low speed

delivery tactics and also involved assessments of wind.

temperature and convection effects. Guidelines later used

for Vietnam defoliation flights were already foreshadowed.

Nor was military interest to remain theoretical. Hai lle

Selassie complained bitterly to the League of Nations of the "fine death dealing rain" which issued from special

sprayers on groups of . 11 a1rcraft. He was referring to

the Italian 581 bombers whose mustard gas sprayings were

credited with saving the Italians from disaster during the . . . 12

annexat1on of Abyss1n1a.


During World War II the post mustard- gas attitudes to

chemical warfare substantially prevented the use of

aeroplanes for the delivery of chemicals. Nonetheless,

there was widespread use of DDT by aircraft spraying in a

potent tropical battle against malaria and other

. b d . 13 1nsect- orne 1seases.

In the latter stages of World War II the US Army Airforces

Board conducted experiments and considered as a practical

application of aerial sprays their use for the killing or


damaging of food crops.

In Korea the vegetation and tactical situation were not

conducive to the use of aerially sprayed herbicides.

However, 15 place. chemical spraying for mosquito control took

Again, during the Malayan insurgency, primarily in 1953

and 1954, the British used helicopters and occasionally

fixed - wing aircraft, to spray food crops in isolated

gardens tended by the insurgents. Interestingly the

British used sodium arsenite at first but the danger posed to the indigenous population was politically unacceptable

and later a mixture of trioxene and dieselene was used. 16

I -14

Meanwhile during the 1950s and beyond research continued

in the United States into large capacity spray systems.

anti - crop chemicals. aerial delivery techniques and into the military advantages of defoliation in the improving of . . b ' l ' 17 VlSl 1 lty .

At the same time the Special Aerial Spray Flight Unit of

the Tactical Air Command (TAC) was conducting substantial

spray missions, dispensing vector controlling substances

rather than herbicides. but acquiring skills applicable to either herbicide or insecticide delivery. The Unit had its origins in successful anti-malarial campaigns in the

latter days of World War I I . After that war this Unit

sprayed well over a thousand insecticide missions largely

in eastern United States. The spray planes flew special

missions in times of disaster and also tested new

equipment and insecticides. For example, the Unit dealt

with a plague of grasshoppers i n Kearney, Nebraska and

. . l . . 18

also 1nfestat1ons of black f y 1n Ma1ne.

In August 1960 a preliminary conference was held at

Langley in the USA with representatives of the us

Department of Agriculture, TAC, the Army and the Navy in

attendance, to consider the acquisition of spray equipped

C123 aircraft. Although the original planning related to


vector control, the secondary capacity of the Cl23 as

equipped to deliver vegetation controlling chemicals


. 19

became extreme y 1mportant.


Following the Japanese surrender on 2nd September 1945 the

British went back into India and Burma. the Dutch back to

Indonesia and the French back to Indo-China. The Truman

Doctrine linked the defence of Europe with collective

security in Asia and stated: 'It must be the policy of the

United States to support free peoples who are resisting

attempted subjugation by armed minorities'.

The post-war climate included the Cold War between Russia

and the West leading to the Berlin Blockade in 1948 and

the Communist takeover in China in 1949. In 1950 the

United States found itself fighting in Asia in the Korean

War. Convinced that the Communists were seeking world

domination, the United States responded by effecting

treaties: in Europe - NATO; in the Middle East - CENTO and

in South-East Asia - SEATO.

France had controlled the Indo- China peninsula since the

19th century. However, an increasing number of Vietnamese

I - 16

wanted no French rule.

people was Ho Chi Minh

had built up a force

The unofficial leader of these

(real name Nguyen That Thanh) who of Viet Minh ( tr. League for the

Independence of Vietnam), particularly in

his support was strongest. Ho was

the north where

a Vietnamese

na t i o na 1 is t : he was also a communist and he believed

Communism was the best alternative for the Vietnamese


The conflict between French colonialism and Vietnamese

nationalism culminated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Although they were modern and well-trained, the French

forces had been in trouble in the 1950s due to the Viet

Minh blocking their supply lines. Unknown to the French,

the Viet Minh were building up their supplies and fire

power. assisted by substantial aid from Communist China .

Further support came from the many hundreds of willing

helpers, who correctly anticipated that this was to be the

crucial confrontation. A ring of heavy artillery

surrounded Dien Bien Phu and, at 5pm on 12 March 1954, the

Viet Minh commenced firing some 200 pieces of artillery

simultaneously. The French were taken by surprise,

reinforcements were too late and 55 days after the first

attack the Viet Minh overran Dien Bien Plu. It marked the

end of French rule.


Indo - China had already been divided into the three states

of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Now, Vietnam was

partitioned; the North, where Ho Chi Minh's forces were

strongest. became a Communist state. When a staunch

anti-communist called Ngo Dinh Diem was appointed Prime

Minister of South Vietnam on 7 July 1954, the Americans

gave him support in an effort to prevent South Vietnam

becoming Communist, like the North.

regime were corrupt;

out of touch with a

more importantly,

great number of

Elements of Diem's

his government was

the people. These

people knew that Ho had been the hero against the French

and that he was advocating independence.

At this time Ho was planning his strategy to gain power in

the South. The establishment of a National F'ront for the

Liberation of South Vietnam was announced in Hanoi in

December 1960 with the express aim of ridding the South of

western influence and re-uniting Vietnam .

Elements of the Viet Minh guerilla forces had remained in

the South following the withdrawal of the French. Raids,

previously spasmodic, were stepped up with support from

the North which had the backing of Communist China.

Headquarters were established in the South and these


forces. which came to be known as Vietcong (tr. Vietnamese

Communists), began to grow by recruiting and training

people from within the villages with the object of

resisting Government forces by the use of guerilla

warfare. Trained and equipped by the Americans, the South

Vietnamese troops endeavoured to locate the guerillas.

However. they were found to be lacking in both their

knowledge of guerilla tactics and enthusiasm.

From the early 1960s the United States, concerned about

the situation then prevailing in the South, sent

increasing numbers of troops to advise and train the South

Vietnamese forces. However, the Vietcong already

controlled large parts of the country and were supported by secure supply lines from the North through Laos, known

as the Ho Chi Minh trail.

When Diem was removed in a coup on 2nd November 1963 by

General Duong Van Minh it seemed only a matter of time

before South Vietnam would fall to the Communists.

Fearing this, President Johnson. who had become President

of the United States following President Kennedy's

assassination, made the decision in 1965 to overtly use

American troops to support South Vietnam against the


Vietcong. Australia also supplied troops thereby backing

America's support for South Vietnam in a decision best

summed up by the now famous words of the then Australian

Prime Minister, Harold Holt - "All the way with LBJ".

This decision to send troops to Vietnam was not popular

either in the US or in Australia where conscription added 'fuel to the fire'. However, at the time, it was thought

by the US and Australian Governments to be the only way to

save South Vietnam. Furthermore, there was then a fear

that what was happening in Vietnam might occur in other

countries, such as Thailand or Indonesia or the

Philippines, if the United States did not take a strong


The soldiers who went to Vietnam were well trained and

well equipped and, even though most were too young to have

any combat experience, they learnt quickly. However. as

the r'rench had discovered, they found it a frustrating

conflict in many ways such as the difficulties of

dist i nguishing between innocent villagers and Vietcong. Although it may have been difficult to cope with the

Vietcong on the ground, the allied forces did have command

of the air. Hence the use of aircraft both for bombing

and t he application of chemical agents.

1 - 20

The Commission's function is not to detail the history of

the conflict and the participation of Australian troops in

that conflict. To the extent that such aspects are

relevant to the Terms of Reference they are dealt with in

the succeeding chapters of this Report. It is therefore

sufficient to indicate that the Australian troops

commenced leaving Vietnam in October 1971 and the last

battalion, 4RAR, left on 8 December 1972. The last

American soldiers, eleven marines bearing the American

Embassy flag, departed just before 8 am on 30th April

1975. The Vietcong victory parade was held in Saigon on

7tll May 1975, the twenty-first anniversary of the defeat

of the French at Dien Bien Phu. Ho Chi Minh did not live

to see the victory - he died of a heart attack, aged 79,

on 3rd September 1969.


When President John Kennedy took office on 20 January 1961

the problem of insurgency in South Vietnam confronted him.

During that year a substantial stepping up of the Vietnam

operation was i_n train. A proposal that a military

"hardware research and development" team go to Vietnam to

explore the feas ibi 1 i ty of the use of various "techniques

and gadgets" received approval. Aerial defoliation was


later to become one of these as yet unspecified techniques 20 and gadgets.

On 11 May 1961, when the National Security Council of the

United States (NSAM) met, US objectives in Vietnam were

stated to be "to prevent communist domination of South

Vietnam; to create in that country a viable and

increasingly democratic society, and to initiate on an

accelerated basis a series of mutually supporting actions

of a military, politic a 1. economic, psychologica 1 and

covert character designed to achieve this (sic)

. . 21


Defoliation itself was first associated with a decision to

"apply modern technological area - denial techniques to


control the roads and trails along Vietnam's borders."

By July 1961 the use of chemical plant killers for

clearing fire breaks along the borders was well in train

and within a few days all the components needed for

extensive defoliation testings were en route to Saigon. 23

The first defoliation test mission was flown along a road

north of Kontum on 10 August 1961 by a Vietnamese Airforce helicopter and the first fixed - wing spray mission was

flown by a C47 aircraft exactly 2 weeks later.


The South Vietnamese President. Diem. became and remained

a staunch supporter of the defoliation program. It was he

who initially proposed the destruction of crops with

defoliants notwithstanding American apprehension about the politically controlled area of chemical, biological and d . l . l 24 ra 10 og1ca weapons.

The situation in South Vietnam (SVN) continued to

deteriorate with the decline in popularity of the Diem

Government. 'rhe Vietcong controlled provincial capitals

within 55 miles of Saigon as well as most of the Mekong

Delta, and morale amongst SVN troops was at a low level.

In October 1961, a proposal that a major defoliant program

be embarked upon was put forward. The proposal was that

US aircraft conduct this defoliant program although the

aircraft would carry SVN markings and the pilots would

wear civilian clothes. The proposal was also expressed as

one involving the use of hired commercial planes and

pilots presumably to be supplied by the US Central

. ( ) 25 Intell1gence Agency CIA .

The proposal had four goals:


(a) To strip the Cambodia/Laotian/North Vietnamese border

of foliage to remove protective cover from Vietcong


(b) To defoliate a portion of the Mekong Delta known as

Zone D where the Vietcong had numerous bases.

(c) To destroy numerous manioc groves which the Vietcong

used as food sources.

(d) To destroy mangrove swamps within which the Vietcong

took cover.

The scope of

the outset

the plan changed from time to time but from

contemplated the use of 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T and

cacodylic acid.

The us Government

responsibility for the public statement that

1 i ves tock or humans.

wished Diem himself to assume

program and to issue a specific

the spray would not be harmful to

Reservations were expressed on the

basis that defoliation alone would be of little use unless

the South Vietnamese forces were able to capitalize on the

resulting lack of cover.


William P. Bundy, the acting Secretary of Defense for

International Security Affairs recommended that President Kennedy himself be asked to give the final clearance for


the program.

Various Departments expressed views about the defoliation

program and in particular its possible propaganda

ramifications but in the result President Kennedy accepted

the joint recommendation of the Departments of State and

Defense on 30 November 1961. and personally approved the

d f 1

. . 27

e o 1at1on program.

This decision, made amongst others at a time of intense

international pressure on many levels, must have seemed at the time to be of little moment. By comparison with the

failing Bay of Pigs, invasion, the Soviet resumption of

atmospheric nuclear tests and the confrontation .over

continued Western presence in Berlin, the defoliation

decision must have seemed the least likely to produce a

raging controversy in the long term.

As well. the President made his decision in the knowledge

that the herbicides to be used had been widely accepted

internationally fo .r agricultural use. Indeed their

outstanding effectiveness had forestalled some gloomy


earlier predictions of famine and had greatly increased

world farm output.

The wide acceptance of the phenoxy herbicides was a

funclion not only of low application rates but also of

t heir low mammalian toxicity. Their world-wide use (inter

alia in the USA, Scandinavia, Argentina and Australia) had been uneventful for 15 years or more. Production of

2,4 - D, for example, grew from 14,000 pounds in 1950 to

36,000,000 pounds in l96o. 28

Their continuous use in Australia now spans 40 years.

Nonetheless the United States Government's continued

desire to be seen simply as a supporter of the Government

in Vietnam in the herbicide operation is clearly displayed

by its policy directives and perhaps reflects a desire to

d i s l ance itself from possible chemical warfare

allegations. These directives are referred to in detail

in Chapter IV.

It seems that there were five specific features of the

Vietnam conflict which led

herbicides. These were:

I - 26

to the decision to use

(a) Vietnam was covered by jungle.

(b) The Vietcong and the North Vietnamese forces relied

heavily on guerilla tactics involving hit and run

where concealment was an essential component of their


(c) Those forces relied substantially on concealed roads,

concealed pathways and encampments that were. because

of the topography. invisible from the air and even

from the ground at close quarters.

and North Vietnamese forces relied (d) The Vietcong

substantially on locally grown food as a component of their war effort.

(e) The United States and other allied forces relied upon

conventional and heavy fire power tactics, avoiding

hand to hand combat notwithstanding the effectiveness

of such tactics when used by Australian troops in both

Malaya and Korea. Conventional tactics are of course

of less effect in the jungle warfare context.

The defoliation program (which came to be known as the

"Ranch Hand" program) had three substantial purposes:


(a) Offence the removal of vegetation from enemy

controlled or heavi ly infiltrated areas, supply routes and communication lines so as to permit air strike or

ground operations.

(b) Crop destruction so as to remove food sources and

h i nder the establ i shment of permanent camps and large

scale military offensives.

(c) Defoliation for defensive purposes by clearing the

perimeters of allied bases, supply routes and supply

depots and by establishing lines of vision from areas

to be defended.

Although the program never quite lived up to expectations

and indeed was regarded by some observers as a failure, it

nonetheless developed into a massive operation during

1965. 1966 and 1967. In 1962 the Washington Post had

described the defoliation project as "a flop". The

Comb i ned Intelligence Centre, Vietnam (CICV), an

intelligence operation under both Military Assistance _CPmmand, Vietnam (MACV), and Vietnamese Joint General

Staff control. favourably evaluated the defoliation

program noting that in 1965 herbicides had destroyed

enough food to feed about 245,000 people for one year. It

I - 28

also repo.rted that Vietcong prisoners had said that the

herbicide program was a greater problem than any other

weapon used against them. This was confirmed by former

11 . d · f h v·


a 1e pr1soners o t e 1etcong.

On the other hand, the program seems also to have led to

uncommitted farmers joining the Vietcong upon destruction

of their farms and Vietcong propaganda was already

stressing the alleged toxic nature of the spraying

materials. For example the National Front far the

Liberation of South Vietnam (NFLSV) Central Committee

published the following statement :

In the past few years, thousands of persons were

killed and hundreds of thousands of others

affected by US toxic chemicals. Recent

prel i minary investigations by the NFLSV Medical Committee and Liberation Red Cross showed that in some localities the number of persons killed by

US chemical poisons had increased 30\. 56\ of

the local population got i ntestinal diseases by

eating poisoned food, and 75\ of them became

consumptive. More barbarous still, US poison

substances have killed fetuses and seriously

affected milk secretion of many mothers and

rendered them unable to feed their babies ....

Moreover from 50-60\ of the draught animals lost vigor and stopped breeding whilst poultry were completely killed . 30

Bearing in mind that 2 , 4-D and 2,4,5-T had been in

continuous and world-wide agricultural use since the

middle 1940s and that. whatever its long-term effects may


be. it was producing no acute ill-effects on the air crews

exposed to it or upon regular army troops in the allied

camps. such propaganda was to say the least exaggerated.

That such propaganda was res or ted to, perhaps indicates

something about the effectiveness of the defoliation


However. propaganda was not the sole cause for concern

about the safety of herbicides. As early as 1964 the Dow

Chemical Company (Dow) had been forced to cease production

of 2,4,5-T because of TCDD contamination 31 problems. In

1968 a study by Bionetics Research Laboratories funded by

the National Cancer Institute suggested that 2,4,5-T was . 32 . .

teratogen1c. The Un1ted States press publ1shed these

reports and at the same time allegations of increased

occurrences of birth defects in areas sprayed by Agent

Orange were appearing in the media of South Vietnam .

In early 1970 additional experiments confirmed that

exposed pregnant (female!) mice did deliver some malformed

offspring. In that year 2.4,5-T was suspended from

certain applications in the United States. In Vietnam,

however. the last fixed-wing mission actually occurred on

1 January 1971 whilst the last helicopter mission under US


control was on 31 October 1971. All other allied

herbicide ceased in the same month. 33

It is important to observe that from the mid 1960s on as

the Ranch Hand defoliation program expanded, so did the

level of concern and public comment from the scientific

and the pseudo-scientific community as to the efficacy of

the program and the safety of the particular herbicides

being employed. Issues relating to the use of herbicides

and the exposure of Australian personnel are dealt with in

Chapter IV of this Report.


The Republic of Vietnam, with a .population of about 20

million people and a varied terrain, lies between 8 and 17

degrees North latitude and between 105 and 110 degrees

East longitude. The coastal and deltic plain is bordered

by the South China Sea and the Gulf of Siam and consists

mainly of swampy and mangrove-covered areas with salty,

brackish water, freshwater swamps and jungle.

inland are foothills, mountains and plateau areas.


The climate has two distinct seasons, the dry and the

wet. From about April-May until September the wet monsoon


blows westerly out of the Gulf of Siam and across South

Vietnam to the South China Sea. In September or October

the wind changes and blows easterly out of the South China

Sea with some southerly element bringing the dry.

Temperatures are fairly constant at about ao°F (±10°)

but with a humidity of between 80 and 90\. Annual

rainfall averages between 50 and 60 inches.

The Australian Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR)

under the First Australian Task Force (1 ATF) was the

Phuoc Tuy province which is towards the south. The first

Australian Logistic Support Group (1 ALSG) provided

support and was based on the southern coast at Vung Tau.

Headquarters (HQARV) was based in what was then known as

Saigon. now Ho Chi Minh City.

Both Phuoc Tuy province in general and Vung Tau in

particular had substantial indigenous populations living • in villages of varying size. Many diseases were endemic in Vietnam: they included malaria, mono - nucleosis

(glandular fever). a range of venereal diseases including

some with a degree of anti-biotic resistance (e.g.

lympho-granulomar-venereum) and worm diseases. Tropical

rashes were common.


Australian troops serving in Vietnam were prophylactics against diarrhoea as well provided with as for water

sterilization. Immunization regimes included tetanus, smallpox. typhoid, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B and bubonic


An anti-malarial regime including mite repellents,

personal insect repellents and aerosol insecticides became



Aircraft insecticide missions authorities as imperative



regarded by medical

all missions were

recommended by the Australian medical authorities and

authorized by the Commander. 1 ATF. The Senior Medical

Officer during the establishment of the 1 ATF camp within Phuoc Tuy province. at Nui oat, was Brig William Rodgers,

who gave evidence at the Exposure hearings of the

Commission. His evidence is dealt with fully in Chapter

IV of the Report.

The aircraft spraying was substantially performed by the

us Air Force. The insecticide chosen was malathion, which


is more fully considered in the Exposure chapter of this


The spraying, whether done by Australian troops or

Americans. was monitored by Australian medical authorities

who ensured that the insecticide was reaching its target

and measured biological indicators to gauge effectiveness.

In addition to malathion, pyrethrins and DDT were used but

allegedly always with the permission of a hygiene officer

or an NCO according to rules for personal protection.


The North Vietnamese and the Vietcong had from the

earliest days of the defoliation program denounced it as chemical warfare. They had also widely disseminated

allegations about health effects in general and birth

d f

. . 34

e ects 1n part1cular.

From 1965 some Americans (substantially though not

exclusively people otherwise opposed to the war) became

increasingly vocal their opposition to the defoliation

program. This opposition was expressed particularly by


scientists concerned with the long-term ecological

consequences of a massive defoliation program.

For example, in 1966 Arthur Galston, Professor: of Biology

at Yale University tried to persuade the American Society of Plant Physiology to protest to President Johnson about

the herbicide progr:am. 35

In February 1967 Doctors John Edsall and Matthew Meselson

were the driving force behind an anti-chemical petition to

President Johnson signed by over 5000 scientists including 17 Nobel Prize winners. 36

On 13 September 1967 the American Association for the

Advancement of Science (AAAS), over the signature of

President Don Price, wrote to the Secretary of Defense,

Robert McNamara, outlining the Academy's concerns and

recommending thorough scientific investigation.

A direct result of this initiative was the commissioning

by the Department of Defense of a comprehensive report on

herbicides from the Mid-West Research Institute (MRI) . . 37

based 1n Kansas C1ty.


That 1967 report was prepared independently of Government

and came to the following conclusions about the

defoliation program:

(1) The direct toxicity hazard to people and animals

on the ground is nearly non-existent;

(2) The destruction of food and wildlife habitat will probably affect wildlife's survival more than any toxic effects of the herbicides;

(3) The application of Orange and White alongside of

rivers and canals or even the spraying of the

water surface itself at the levels used for

defoliation. is not 1 ikely to ki 11 the fish in

the water:

(4) Food produced from land treated with herbicides

will not be poisonous or significantly altered in nutritional quality; if residues of a more

persistent herbicide such as picloram should

carry over to the next growing season, it would

retard plant growth rather than concentrate some toxic residues in the crop;

(5) Toxic residues of these herbicides (Orange, White and Blue) will not accumulate in the fish and

meat animals to the point where man will be

poisoned by them: and

(6) The primary ecological change is the destruction of vegetation and the resulting ecological

succession in the · replacement of this


This authoritative report, containing as it did good news,

received little publicity and therefore did little to

allay the fears.

In response to further agitation by the AAAS, the

Department of State sent Dr Fred Tschirley, a Department


of Agriculture specialist to Vietnam. He conceded that

the conditions then prevailing made a thorough

investigation difficult. 39

Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese and their then Chinese

allies were promoting an international clamour to stop the use of herbicides. Even the allied South Vietnamese were


. 40

ecom1ng restless.

The us Embassy in Saigon felt it necessary to make a

statement in September 1968 referring to the work of an

inter-agency committee which had recommended the

continuation of the program on the basis of the saving of

SVN and us lives. 41

Nonetheless, the AAAS continued to agitate although its

membership was by now far from united.

Doctors Egbert Pfeiffer and Gordon Orians, members of

AAAS, visited Vietnam and gave a full account of their

mission describing the devastating effect of defoliation

on Vietnamese ecology whilst conceding the military value . 42

of the exerc1se.

1- 37

Up to this point the opposition was confined to ecology.

There was however:, a reliable scientific basis for: some

concern on health grounds.

Before the defoliation program began, the chemical

industry was well aware of the existence in 2,4,5-T of the

contaminant dioxin, TCDD. It was also aware of the highly

tox i c nature of this compound.

An accident in the Monsanto works at Nitro, West Virginia,

i n 1949 had been studied by Dr Ray Suskind, Head of the

Department of Environmental Health at the University of

Cincinatti. Those exposed to TCDD in that event were the

subject of interest.

As early as 1952 Monsanto had warned the Army at Edgewood


Arsenal of the toxic by-product. A Hercules internal

memo of July 12, 1965, revealed knowledge within the Dow

empire of the toxicity of TCDD.

Dr Suskind's investigations ultimately indicated that

although initial symptoms of fatigue, irritability, loss

of libido and appetite and some liver function test

anomalies appeared, there were no long-term signs or

symptoms other than persistent chloracne. Chloracne is a


quite distinctive skin disorder, said to be the hallmark

of exposure to TCDo . 44

There had also been accidents involving exposure of

workers to dioxin in Ludwigshafen, FRG in 1953 and in

Amsterdam in 1963. 45 Little was commonly known about

the aftermath of those events.

What caught the media's imagination however, was a study

funded by the National Cancer Institute which suggested

that 2,4,5-T was teratogenic in rats and mice. It should

be noted that this study involved the application of

dosages of between 4.6 mg/kg body weight (bw) to 113 mg/kg

bw to pregnant female rats and mice in the early days of


. . 46

t e1r pregnanc1es.

The report of this study in the US national press in 1969

coincided with rumours and media reports from South

Vietnam suggesting a dramatic increase in birth defects in

rural areas and citing US herbicide use as the cause.

Photographs of human babies w.i th gross deformities were . . . l . 47

also 1n w1de c1rcu at1on.

The Executive Office of Science and Technology on 29

October 1969 announced restrictions on the use of 2,4,5-T, . 48

to areas remote from populat1on.


A Defense team under Dr Robert Cutting found no support

for suggestions of malformation amongst the

Vietnamese. 49

An independent Commission appointed by AAAS consisting of

Arthur Westing. John Constable, Matthew Meselson and

Robert Cooke. (respectively, a Professor of Botany at

Wyndham College in Vermont; Professor of Surgery at

Harvard Medical School; a Harvard University Geneticist

and a Graduate student in Ecology in Yale), reported an

i ncrease in stillbirths, spina bifida, cleft palate, just

over half of which were said to come from Saigon (which of

course was not sprayed). As will be seen 50 later, the

material upon which the views of this Committee were based

was inadequate for conclusions to be drawn and in any

event suggested increases to stillbirth and malformation

rates much lower than those known to be universal where

records are properly kept.

Whatever the validity of the process, the combination of

the Bionetics Research Laboratory Report (1968) 51 and

the Vietnamese material was sufficient to lead to the

cessation of herbicide use in Vietnam. Agent Orange was

banned in April 1970 and in February 1971 the herbicide

program was officially abandoned. 52


In September 1971 all stocks were returned to the us to

find thems'elves ultimately, perhaps even incredibly,

disposed of by shipping to Johnston Island, where they

were later (1977) destroyed by high temperature


Between 1970 and 1978 at an ecological level the debate

bubbled away. The US Environmental Protection Agency

(EPA) sought to have 2,4,5-T withdrawn from the market and

Dow was significantly successful in court actions brought

against it because of the lack of any scientific evidence

of harmfulness. 53

At the United Nations the "ecological" warfare debate

continued. 5 4

In March 1974 The National Academy of Science published

its report, "The Effects of Herbicides in South

V . 55

1etnam". This report took up the Vietnam data about

birth defects and other health consequences including

chromosomal damage but the whole question of health

effects and birth defects remained quiescent.

In particular there were no claims on the U.S. Veterans'

Administration for chemically caused disabilities. Nor


were there claims in respect of birth defects. More

particularly known to be

there were


no claims for

upon TCDD

porphyria cutanea tarda and chloracne .

the disabilities

exposure. namely,

Tha of the Agent Orange controversy should be

contrasted with the normal epidemiological process.

Epidemiological progress is often made by the observation

of a particular syndrome or set of symptoms and signs

associated with a particular exposure.

observer to deduce cause and effect:

leading a trained

to be tested by

proper scientific inquiry. It involves an intuitive but

deductive leap from a number of particular cases to an

hypothesis for testing.

The Agent Orange controversy was this process in reverse.

One man ascribed his cancer to being sprayed with Agent

Orange. Others then ascribed a huge range of other

disabilities to the same cause.

In June 1977 one Maude de Victor, a counsellor employed in

the Chicago office of Veterans' Administration (US),

received a telephone call from the wife of Charles Owen .

Owen and his wife were convinced that his cancer had been

caused by a chemical which he had sprayed in Vietnam. He


had been a member of the US Airforce for about 24 years.

Shortly after his contact with Ms de Victor, Owen died .

Ms de Victor, herself a cancer sufferer in remission,

pursueo Mrs Owen's claims to appeal following Owen's death

and the initial refusal of a pension.

She "called up" information from a computer terminal about

cancer victims who had served in Vietnam. She found what

seemed to her to be a large number of cancers.

She also closely questioned veterans about their herbicide

exposure. Between June and October 1977 she became

convinced not only that Owen was correct about the cause

of his cancer but also that Agent Orange caused a wide

variety of disabilities amongst Vietnam veterans and she prompted such veterans to file claims for compensation,

the first in October 1977.

Her usage of computer facilities to ascertain details of

cancer cases was not iced by her superiors and, since she

was neither medically nor in any other way qualified to

look at individual files for general or research purposes,

her order for the files was cancelled. This she took as

evidence of a cover-up and she began a personal

I --43


crusade. Not surprisingly, the Veterans'

Administration responded by requiring medical support for

the veterans' claims.

Maude de Victor approached the local television channel

and over the next few months Bill Kurt is put together a

documentary called, "Agent Orange - Vietnam's Deadly F'og",

first played in Chicago on 23 March 1978 and thereafter

receiving national coverage.

The history of the Agent Orange controversy in the United

States from this point on is dominated by the conduct of a

class action in that country. The history of that

litigation and the issues involved are dealt with fully in Chapter XI of this Report.

So successful was the Kurtis film that the US national

press took up the cry and a veri table flood of "Agent

Orange claims" resulted.

In April 1978 the VA called together a group of

consultants to advise on the herbicide question and a

number of meetings were held between July and September of

that year so as to evaluate the current knowledge about

phenoxy herbicides . Brochures were prepared for the


guidance of doctors and staff setting out the biological

act ions of ·the herbicides used during the conflict and a

spec i al registry was established for veterans who believed

that they had been exposed to Agent Orange.

F'ree. elaborate medica 1 examinations were 57 Vietnam veterans. More than 150,000

availed themselves of this opportunity.

offered to such

veterans have

The results of

all these examinations have been retained in what is known as the "Agent Orange Registry".

By October 1978 publicity, which had reached a very high

pitch. resulted in a Congressional hearing before the

Medical Facilities and Benefits Sub- Committee of the

Veterans Affairs Committee of Congress.

In April 1979 an inter-departmental committee, called the

Advisory Committee on Health-Related Effects of

Herbicides, was chartered. It met quarterly from June

1979. This Committee includes representatives nominated by

Government, Veterans' organisations and the academic


However. the concern of the Press. of veterans and of

Congressmen has continued unabated until the present day.

I - 45


In August 1978 the magazine, "Rolling Stone", published

within Australia, included an article by Howard Kohn

called, "The Poison Harvest: Agent Orange, A Vietnam


This article reported much of the Kurtis film, quoted Ms

De Victor and emphasized the us cases.

The birth defect story was taken by the Sydney Sun Herald

of 29 October 1978 under the heading, "Vietnam War Victims

Are Still Being Born".

The first public claimant of the Agent Orange syndrome in

Australia was Bernard Szapiel. a publicist, who stated in

a press interview reported in the Heidelberg (Victoria)

"Voice", 25 April 1979,

after reading newspaper that he had diagnosed himself


reports. The Brisbane Sunday

Mail of U March 1979 published a highly emotive report

quoting the American lawyer, Victor Yannacone.

From November 1979 on, the Australian newspapers more or

less continuously ran stories under such headlines as.

"Agent Orange Got Me Says Vietnam Veteran"; 59 "Soldiers'


Babies Death at Birth"; 60 "Agent Orange Father An Angry


Man"; "Agent Orange Ruined My Life"; 62 "The Agent

Orange 63 Horror"; "Life Hell For Agent Orange

V . . 64

1ct1m"; "Spraying To Kill"; 65 "Shock Report On

A 0 B b

. 66

gent range a 1es"; "Orange For Danger. The Deadly

Joke"; 67 "Agent Orange Cause Deformity"; 68 "Veterans

Tell Of

70 Hades"; Ill d D f . 69 ness an e orm1 ty"; "The Agent Called

"Agent Orange Veteran Faces .Life of

71 72

Agony"; "Agents of Deformity and Death".

In December 1979 the first meeting of Australian Vietnam

veterans concerned with the Agent Orange question took

place. This was in Melbourne and it was attended by

Bernard Szapiel. Clyde Holding (now the Federal Minister

for Aboriginal Affairs but then the MHR for Melbourne

Ports), a representative of 73 the RSL and John Evans who

later became "scientific adviser" to WAA.

On 10 January 1980 a meeting was held in New South Wales

at the Castle Hill RSL and at that meeting John Evans

spoke as did the Queensland lawyer. Bill McMillan. There

was media coverage.

Shortly after a similar meeting was held at the Park Royal

Hotel in Brisbane and during the months that followed


meetings occurred in Adelaide. Perth and Darwin. These

were also given substantial media coverage emphasizing

Agent Orange. The idea of a national body was mooted.

On 23 March 1980 "Sixty Minutes" sensationally reported on

national TV an "epidemic" of birth deformities supposedly

caused by Ranch Hand herbicides.

In May 1980 a meeting of "representatives" from

Queensland, Victoria. Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

and New South Wales was held at West Pennant Hills, an

outer suburb of Sydney. Phillip Thompson of NSW and Holt

McMinn of Victoria (later resident in ACT) who was

described at that meeting as the "National President",

were present.

As Mr Thompson has been active in Vietnam veterans'

affairs since at least 1980, a brief reference to the

roles he has played within various Vietnam veterans'

a s s o c i a t i on s i s rna de . During the early part of 1980 he

was a committee member of the Vietnam Veterans'


. . 74

ssoc1at1on of New South Wales.

In the latter part of 1980 and early 1981 Thompson held

himself out as President of the Vietnam Veterans'


Association of New South Wales. On 5 March 1981 Mr McMinn

as "National President" of WAA wrote to Mr Thompson

referring to hi.m as "President, Vietnam Veterans'

Association of Australia, New South Wales Branch". The

minutes of a so-called "National Congress of WAA" held in

Canberra on 2 and 3 May 1981 lists those attending. In

addition to two representatives with voting rights from the New South Wales Branch, namely, Messrs Elphick and

Bratt, Thompson's name is shown as "President, New South Wales Branch but present representing Northern Territory

Branch (i.e .• claiming proxy voting rights for two absent

Northern Territory delegates)". At this meeting 14

"representatives" voted and elected Thompson "National

President" of WAA. the vote being 10 for. . 75 4 aga1nst.

He has held himself out as National President of VVAA

since May 1981 claiming to have been re-elected each year

at so-called "Nationa 1 Congress" meetings. It is clear

that he is the person who actively instructed Counsel

appearing on behalf of VVAA before the Commission. It was

he who frequently gave media interviews on behalf of WAA

during the currency of the Commission.

John Evans and the Queensland lawyer McMillan were also

present at the May 1980 meeting of the "National Congress"


of VVAA. McMillan was promoting the US class action and

encouraging Australian veterans to become involved in it.

His motives were suspected by, inter alia, John Evans and

Phillip Thompson. and an alliance developed between these two.

As appears

76 ·the later, 1980 meeting agreed to meet

aga i n in 1981 but no positive formal decision was taken as

t o the form tha t any national body of Vietnam veterans

wo uld take. No minutes of the 1980 meeting have been

produced to the Commission.

In or about August 1980, 77 Thompson with the assistance

of Evans, put together a brief for the opinion of Mr

T.E.F . Hughes QC wherein action against the Commonwealth

was suggested.

Although Hughes advised that common law action was

possible against the Commonwealth in the High Court, a

claim pursuant to the Repatriation legislation was put in

t rain. This application was made in 1980 by a New South

Wales cancer victim, Colin P. Simpson. whose widow pursued

the claim after his death . The application alleged that

Simpson's cancer resulted from exposure to toxic chemicals

during service in Vietnam. The widow ultimately succeeded


by the

(l920)78 operation which the

of s 47 of

Repatriation the Review

Repatriation Act Tribunal in its

determination pointed out placed a heavy onus on the

Commonwealth to disprove her entitlement to the claim


beyond reasonable doubt.

After a meeting between Thompson and the then Minister for

Veterans' Affairs, Mr Adermann. in a VIP room at Sydney

Airport in early 1980, the Commonwealth Institute of

Health (CIH), an academic institution within the

University of Sydney (and constituting that University's

School of Public Health). was commissioned by the then

Government to investigate Agent Orange claims . A special

independent unit known as the Australian Veterans

Herbicide Studies was set up within the Institute to

conduct the investigations. Thompson had at that time

promised veteran co- operation with that unit.

During 1981 the scope of the investigation was broadened

so as to enable an examination of all aspects of Vietnam

service and the title of the unit was accordingly changed

to the Australian Veterans Health Studies (AVHS). The

unit originally intended to conduct three studies, a birth defects study, a mortality study and a morbidity study.

I - 51

This program had been agreed to in principle by the then

Coalition Government.

The study into birth defects was carried out and the 1983

report thereon is discussed in detail later in this

80 Report.

The mortality study which commenced in 1981 was finalized

tn 1984 during the currency of the Commission. This

. 1 d. . 81 report 1s a so 1scussed later here1n.

A protoco1 82 for the morbidity study was prepared late

. . 83 .

1n 1982 and a p1lot study was conducted 1n 1982/1983.

The pilot study report dated July 1983 was not published

in print-run form until about March 1984 but a copy of the

report was made available to the Commission shortly after

July 1983.

Before the change of Government in March 1983 the

Coalition Government varied its decision in respect of the

morbidity study.

Instead of the full morbidity study as advised by AVHS,

only a neuro- psychiatric study was authorized, the

question of a full morbidity study being left to be


considered after the completion of that study. Although

the neuro-psychiatric study had been put in train before

the commencement of this Commission, limited progress had

been made by that time. On the setting up of the

Commission. the study was effectively put on "hold" by


I n e a r 1 y J u 1 y 1 9 8 3 , the Co mm i s s i on , a f t e r cons u 1 t a t i on

with experts in various fields, decided that a full

morbidity study should be conducted if a proper and

thorough inquiry was to be carried out. Accordingly. a

request was made to the Government that such a study,

under the control of the Commission, be funded.

some twelve months of prevarication and delay,

request was refused. Correspondence between


this the

Government and the Commission in this regard is set out in

Chapter VI of this Report.

Reverting to the 1980 meeting between Mr Adermann and

Thompson, certain information had been offered to the

Minister which resulted in Dr Fleming. a doctor within the

Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) and John Evans

getting together and discussing the basis upon which John Evans supported chemical claims. This produced, in August


1980, a document later called by some the "Fleming


Report". This document is discussed in Chapter XIV.

Meanwhile members of the various veterans' associations

throughout Australia had fallen out and disputes developed

between VVAA and the DVA over various matters including

the "Fleming 85 Report". Doubt also arose as to VVAA's

future co-operation in the epidemiological studies to be

conducted by AVHs. 86

Senator Messner became Minister for Veterans' Affairs on 3

November 1980. Early in 1981 he went to the United States

to investigate the Agent Orange question.

Although lobbying by Vietnam veterans for a Royal

Commission began as early as December 1980, it would

appear that within the various Vietnam veterans'

associations within Australia dissension had developed not

only between associations but between members within

particular associations. Such conflict was in respect of at least three contentious matters. namely;

(a) Australian Vietnam veterans' support for and

participation in the U.S. class action claiming

damages against chemical companies arising out of the

use of chemical agents in Vietnam;


(b) the possible liaison and co - operation of a proposed

body of Vietnam veterans with the RSL; and

(c) whether further: support should be given to the

epidemiological studies being carried out or to be

carried out by AVHS during 1981- 1982.

Documents produced to the Commission by WAA which are

relevant to these topics and which throw significant light

on the degree of dissension and on the factions then

within veterans associations within

discussed later in this Report. 87 Australia are

A meeting of a so- called "national congress" of WAA which

was held in Canberra on 2 and 3 May 1981 discussed

proposals as to the aims and objects of a proposed

national association. Draft Articles of Association for a suggested corporate structure for that association were

considered by so- called "representatives" from certain

States. Further, questions of ways to give assistance to

veterans generally and to members particularly (especially

with their DVA claims) were canvassed as were ways of ·

acting as a lobby group seeking public acceptance of the

Agent Orange thesis and the setting up by the Government

of a Royal Commission.

I - 55

However. the mooted national association was not in fact

then, nor at any time since May 1981. incorporated or

registered under any Federal or State legislation. Any

such incorporation or registration would have required the

filing of a constitution and/or rules. An examination of the minutes of the 1981 meeting and other documents

furnished by VVAA show that in fact no rules have ever

been agreed to by those persons said to

national association.

make up the

Accordingly, membership of such a

it is difficult to see how an association known as

"Vietnam Veterans 1 Association of Australia" could have

validly functioned since May 1981. This problem is

discussed later in Chapter XII.

Tn any event, lobbying for a Royal Commission was carried

out by Thompson throughout 1981 and 1982. An

investigation by the Senate Standing Commit tee on Science

and the Environment which produced a report in November

1982 entitled "Pesticides and the Health of Australian


Vietnam Veterans" did · not result in any decrease in

such lobbying and it continued right up until the 1983

elections. Indeed, certain members of Vietnam veterans 1 associations campaigned against sitting Coalition

Government candidates in marginal electorates. It is

claimed by Thompson that he and his Vietnam veteran


friends were instrumental in bringing about the change of government.


'l'his Commission embarked upon its task with little

relevant experience to guide it.

At the very outset Counsel Assisting sought advice and

guidance from WAA' s scientific adviser, John Evans. A

full day was spent in conference with him in the presence

of Senior Counsel for VVAA. A large body of literature

was referred to and lists of documents upon which VVAA

would rely were provided. At the same time a lengthy

presentation of Evans' views was given. He had. of

course, already given evidence before the Senate Standing

Committee on Science and the Environment and the

Commission was in general terms aware of his opinions as

to certain chemical agents and their possible effects.

'l'he Commission also sought the assistance of veteran

groups in the United States.

At that time the lawyers appearing for the Vietnam

veterans in the US Class Action advised against sharing

I - 57

material with the Commission. However statements of

relevant documents filed by the e xperts and Plaintiffs in other that action were obtained from the us

Department of Justice.

As welL the data bases of the Department of Health, of

DVA and of the Sydney University's School of Public Health

(CUI) were searched. Access to "Medline" (the world-wide

computerized medical data service) was obtained and thus,

h opefully, all literature relevant to the issues became


Additionally, contact was made with the World Health

Or ganisation (WHO), The International Toxicology Forum, US

Ve terans' Adm i nistration, and relevant health authorities

in the us. Canada, the UK, Sweden and New Zealand.

The US Government made available to the Commission the

full resources of the Agent Orange Working Group (AOWG), an Inter- Departmental Committee formed under the auspices

of t he Administration and answerable directly to the White


Having gathered the material the Commission embarked upon

a comprehensive self-education program. This involved

1 - 58

reading closely a large amount of scientific and other

material frdm all over the world. Extensive consultations were held with appropriate experts including

epidemiologists. toxicologists, physicists, physicians and

chemists. The result was a plan of action, summarized in

the Opening Address of Counsel Assisting on 6th December

1983. 89

It became apparent to the Commission that a deal of

scientific research had been and was being conducted in

Vietnam on health consequences of herbicide exposure in

general and birth defects in particular. This research

had culminated in a symposium held in Ho Chi Minh City in

January 1983. Although participation in that symposium by

some Australians was contemplated, that participation in

fact did not take place. The symposium was, however.

attended by a number of Americans with some scientific

qualification and, in particular, John Constable and

Samuel Epstein who have been most active politically in

the Agent Orange controversy in the United States.

In view of the relevance and significance of the

Vietnamese studies. one of the Counsel Assisting, Max

Kimber. was sent to Vietnam in December 1983. At the

conclusion of that visit it was clear that a thorough


examination of the scientific basis of the Vietnam studies

was essential i.f the Commission's work was to be credible

and complete. This was particularly so in a context of

ill - informed and at times sensational public commentary.

Accordingly, the Commission travelled to Vietnam in early

March 1984 with Counsel Assisting and a panel of

scientific advisers to make a detailed examination of all the relevant studies . A report from those scientific

advisers forms part of Exhibit 1422. This visit also

enabled thorough understanding of the cross-examination of

reviewers of the Vietnamese data, in particular, Dr

Alistair Hay.

In view of the vast amount of research being undertaken in

the United States on matters relevant to the Commission,

an advance party consisting of

John Coombs Q.C . , and the

Senior Counsel Assisting,

Commission's principal

scientific adviser, Dr. John Mathews, was sent to the

United States in late February 1984.

This trip was proposed because it was not possible for

some experts to come to Australia to give evidence and, in

any event, / to bring all the experts to Australia would be

much more expensive than to v i sit them. Dr. Alvin Young,

I - 60

for example, was

consult with the

evidence. This is

permitted by the U.S. Government to

Commission, but not to give public

a general U.s. Government attitude to

its scientific employees.

The on-going literature review also revealed that reliable

scientific research work was continuing on various

industrial and ace identa 1 exposures to relevant chemical agents (and, particularly, the contaminant dioxin)

throughout Europe as well as the U.S. Accordingly, Graham

Ellis, one of the Counsel Assisting, was sent to interview 13 scientists in Europe; to obtain from them the most

up-to-date research papers written on the numerous

industrial and accidental exposures; and to make an

assessment as to the possible value and feasibility of

bringing a small number of those scientific experts to

Australia to give evidence. Ellis was also directed to

attend, en route to Europe, the opening day of the U.S.

Vietnam veteran Class Action in New York City on 7 May


Subsequently, in September and October 1984, the

Commission visited Amer lea and Europe. Evidence from Dr

Lennart Hardell of Sweden and Dr Alan Smith of New zealand

was taken in San Francisco as both were at that time


located at the University of California, Berkeley.

Hearings were also conducted in St Louis, Missouri, and in

Dayton, Ohio.

In England an informal hearing with Sir Richard Doll was

held at Oxford whilst evidence was taken at formal

hearings in Zurich, Switzerland (Dr Larsson) and Rome,

Italy (Dr Bruzzi). In Rome the Commission was also able

to hold an informal discussion with Professor Pocchiari in

the presence of Counsel Assisting and Counsel representing

Monsanto and VVAA.

The balance of the time of the visit was devoted to

consultations with appropriate experts in many fields both

in America and Europe.

The formal hearings of the Commission were divided into

various topics. The first of these hearings was a four

week session on the topic of Exposure which commenced in

January 1984. Chapter IV of this Report is devoted to

that topic. It is important to note that the various

chapters of this Report dea 1 not only with the evidence

presented at the forma 1 hearings but also with the other

work of the Commission in those areas.


Subsequent topics (and their location in this Report)

include Toxicology, (Ch V); Cancer (Ch VIII); Birth

Defects (Ch VII); Mortality (Ch X); and Health Effects (Ch


A consideration of the Terms of Reference relating to the

conduct of DVA and current repatriation legislation, not

being appropriate for formal hearings, was dealt with by

way of investigation with both DVA and VVAA having the

opportunity to contribute. The results of this

investigation are contained in Ch XIV of this Report.

In the course of the Inquiry it became apparent that the

Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service was playing a

significant role in meeting the needs of Vietnam

veterans. Accordingly, a session was held involving

counsellors from each State attending the Commission on 12th and 13th December 1983. This topic is also discussed

in Ch IX and XIV.

Obviously, the health of Australia's veterans of the

Vietnam conflict could be adversely affected by a variety

of factors.

of whether

health of

In order to reach a conclusion on the issue

chemica 1 agents were having an effect on the

such veterans it was necessary to consider


whether there were other explanations. One such

explanation was that of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

(PTSD) or war neurosis. Formal hearings on this topic

were held in September 1984 and Chapter IX of this Report

is directed to that topic and the alleged neurotoxic

effect of chemical agents.

In addition to the formal hearings of the Commission.

informal hearings were held throughout Australia. The

results of these informal hearings are dealt with fully in Chapter VI of this Report which represents a useful

picture of the feelings of many Vietnam veterans .

In the course of these informal hearings and throughout

the life of the Commission many inquiries were received in

relation to the United States Class action. Accordingly, a Chapter of this Report deals with the history and issues

involved in that litigation and its subsequent

settlement. 90

As indicated earlier, the legality and representative

status of WAA caused concern to the Commission. Chapter XII deals with these and other related matters. including

the role played by its "scientific adviser", John Evans.


The conclusions and recommendations of the Commission are

contained in Chapter XV.



1. Exhibit 934.

2. Exhibit 1926.

3. See, for example, Sydney Morning Herald 19 March

1983. 16 & 17 May 1983; I llawarra Mercury (NSW)

17 May 1983; Canberra Times 3 July 1983; The Age

(Melbourne) 4 July 1983.

4. Exhibit 1003.

5. For example: "The Case for a Royal Commission",

Debrief December 1982.

6. Buckingham "Operation Ranch Hand". u.s.

Government Printer 1982 pp 195.

7. Downs et al, "The origins of Crop Dusting"

Agricultural History Vol 39, No 3 (July 1965) pp


8. NAS Report supra, 11-1.

9 . Ibid.

10. Air Corp to Chemical Warfare Technical Committee,

"Dispersion of Chemicals from Aircraft, October 2, 1933".

11 . A speech to the League of Nations quoted in Time,

13 July 1936, p 6 referred to in Buckingham,


12. Neal, Edward J.,"Gas stopped Ethiopians" AAP

dispatch 1936, Buckingham supra.

13. Schreuder et al "Spraying of DDt from Airplanes"

The Air Surgeons Bulletin Volume 2 No 3, March

1945 pp 67-68, quoted in Buckingham, supra.

14. Report, Army Airforces Board, Orlando FL "Marking

and Defoliation of Tropical Vegetation" 18

December 1944.

15. P 4, Buckingham, supra.

16. "The Accomplishments of Air Power in the

Malaysian Emergency", Maxwell, Air University, May 1963, p 57.


17. Wright Patterson AFB, "Engineering Study on a

Large Capacity Spray System for Aircraft" 3 June 1952.

18. r.umpldn. John I. and Konopnicki, Mary "Military

Air Spray Operations. 1946-1960". Discussed by Buckingham. supra.

19. Minutes. Cl23 Aerial Spray System Preliminary

Planning Conference, 29 August 1960 .

20. Rostow, Walt W .• Memo to the President, 12 April


21. NSAM No 52 May 11. 1961.

22. NSAM No 52 Memo Task Force Draft. Subject: "A

Program of Action to Prevent Communist Domination of South Vietnam". pp 4 and 5.

23. Status Report on the Presidential Program for

Vietnam as of 21 July 1961, 15 August 1961.

24. Reference Book for the meeting with the Secretary

of Defense, 8 October 1962.

25. Message 23 September 1961. referred to in Joint

Chief of Staff Minutes 2343/197, 14 February 1963.

26 . Bundy, William P. Memo, to SECDEF, Subject:

Defoliant Operations in Vietnam, 14 November 1961.

27. NSAM No 115, Subject: Defoliant Operations in

Vietnam 30 November 1961.

28. Peterson, G. E.. 1967 "The Discovery and

Development of 2,4-D" Agricultural History Volume 41. pp 243-253.

29 . Ch I I I & IV. Buckingham. supra.

30. Collins C.V. "Herbicide Operations in S.E. Asia,

July 1961 - June 1967". H.Q . Pacific Air Forces,

San Francisco, 1967.

31. Exhibit 906.


32. Bionetics Research Laboratories, Inc. 1968.

Evaluation of carcinogenic, teratogenic and

mutagenic activities of selected pesticides and industrial chemicals. Submitted under contracts PH 43-64-57 and PH 43 - 67-735 with the National

Cancer Institute . Available from National

Technical Information Service, Document Number PV-223-159.

3 3. NAS supra.

34. Collins, C.V. "Herbicide Operations in

South-East Asia", supra, Chapter 1.

35. Hay, Alistair "The Chemical Scythe", Chapter 7

refers to a personal interview on 11 January 1979. 36 . Petition to President L.B. Johnson, 14 February


37. Exhibit 101.

38. Ibid p 207.

39. Exhibit 206 pp 779-786 .

40. A Technology Assessment of the Vietnam

Defoliation Matter. DOD, 8 August 1969, p 48.

41 . Ibid p 49.

42. Pfeiffer and Orians, "Mission to Vietnam" ,

Scientific Research 9 June 1969, 23 June 1969. 43. Presidential Scientific Advisory Committee's

Report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. May 9, 1963 .

44 . Exhibit 1550.

45. IARC Working Group Report, Lyon, Conference June


46. US National Technical Information Service

Document Nos PB-223-159, 160, 161.

47. u.s. NAS. "The Effects of Herbicides in South

Vietnam" Part B. Working Papers: Economic

Stress and Settlement Changes. Thomas, William L. Washington, NAS, 1974: Exhibits 703, 903.

Chapter 7, p 53, quoting the Newspapers Tin Sang, and Chinh Luan.


48. Statement by Lee Du Bridge, 29 October 1969,

Office of Science and Technology.

49. Cutting et al "Hydatidiform Moles and Stillbirths

in RVN 60-69" US Government Printing Office 1970.

50. See Ch VI I "Birth Defects."

51. Bionetics

supra 32. Research Laboratories, Inc. 1968.

52. DOD Background Report on Herbicide Operations in

South Vietnam, April 1971.

53 . See 1980 Pre-Hearing Brief FIFRA Docket No 415 et


54. Swedish Prime Minister, Olaf Palme, June 6, 1972,

Plenary Session UN Conference on the Human


55. Exhibits 703 and 903, supra .

56. Yannacone, Victor personal communication to

Senior Counsel Assisting, March 1984.

57. Shepard, Barclay: personal communication to

Senior Counsel Assisting, October 1984.

58 . Although a force in the controversy and present

at early VVAA meetings, Szapiel's original claim for a pension (which was granted) (See File

MSS2883) never mentioned chemicals or Agent

Orange. He ascribed his incapacity, namely

nausea, nervous tens ion, giddiness. lack of

energy, to heavy combat engagements on Operation "Capital" when his best friend was killed. A

determination had been made on 27 November 1978, four months before Mr Szapiel's self-diagnosis!).

59. The Australian, 14 December 1979.

60. Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), 16 December 1979.

61. The Australian, 17 December 1979.

62. Melbourne Sun. 20 December 1979.

63. Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), 23 December 1979.

64. Sunday Sun. 23 December 1979.


65. Penthouse, January 1980.

66. The Australian, 3 January 1980.

67. Melbourne Herald, 5 January 1980.

68. Adelaide Advertiser, 7 January 1980.

69. The Age (Melbourne), 8 January 1980 .

70. The Sun (Melbourne), 9 January 1980.

71. West Australian Daily News, 10 January 1980.

72. Sunday Times, 13 January 1980.

73. See Ch XII "The Role of John Evans."

74. Exhibit 1962. (See application for registration by

an as soc ia t ion of that name under the Chari table

Collections Act 1934 (NSW) lodged in August

1980. It is interesting t o note that the

Certificate of Registration dated 7 August 1980 issued under that Act shows the full name of the

registered association as "Vietnam Veterans '

Association". Search of the public records under that Act shows no change of name as late as 9 May


75 · See Ch XI I "Status of VVAA."

76. Ibid.

77 . Either as a Committee man or as President of the

New South Wales Vietnam Veterans Association.

7fJ · Section 47 of the Repatriation Act 1920 is set

out and discussed in Ch II "Standard of Proof." .

See also Ch XIII.

79. 5 January 1982, Repatriation Tribunal

Determination, Reasons for Decision. 80. Exhibit 1248. See Ch VII.

81. Exhibit 1761. See Ch X.

82. Exhibit 901.


83 . Exhibit 1927.

84. Exhibit 893.

85. See Press Release by Mr Adermann dated 30

September 1980. See also Ch XII "Status of VVAA."

86. See statements of

September 1981 and Messner's statement out in Ch XII.

Phillip Thompson dated 8

25 October 1981 and Senator

dated 18 September 1981 set

87. See Ch XII "Status of VVAA."

88. Exhibit 1448.

89. Transcript at pp 16-71.

90. See Ch XI.

















The Executive direction "to inquire" creates a context

different from party and party litigation. In

investigative Royal Commissions, of which this is one,

there is no party who will "lose" if he fails to discharge

the "onus" upon him to prove something to some defined


As well. in such inquiries,

a wlda-ranqinq manner and

produced by those

the Tribunal informs itself in

from many sources other than


given leave to appear. In

the present Inquiry a huge pool of background information

is available in addition to the oral evidence and the

documents tendered.

Further, the context may suggest in such an inquiry that

the Executive wishes to know not only that which is found

to be probably so, but also that which may possibly be so .


In the Communism Commission (1949) Mr Justice Lowe said:

[I) should not treat the matters investigated

before (me) merely as a piece of litigation

between par.t.ies in which findings should be made on the evidence in favour of one party or the

ol:her.. but as matters in which the Executive

desires to know, not merely what I find proved by

the evidence, but also what the evidence does not

satisfactorily determine and which I think may

nevertheless be possibly true.2

I t was such considerations that led Hallett to say, "For

mos t inquiries it is satisfactory that the standard of

proof should be flexible". 3

But to say that the standard of proof is flexible is not

t o say that it is irrational nor that a Tribunal such as

t his can be guided by anything other than standard common

law rules. For these rules have their own flexibility.

Professor Wigmore in his "Treatise on the Law of Evidence"


Tn civil cases it: should be enough to say that

the extreme caution and the unusual positiveness of persuasion required in criminal cases do not

obtain. But it is customary to go further, and

here also to attempt to define in words the

quality of persuasion necessary. It is said to

be that state of mind in which there is felt to

be a "preponderance of evidence" in favour of the

demandant's proposition. Here, too, moreover, this simple and suggestive phrase has not been



allowed to suffice; and in many precedents sundry other phrases- "satisfied", "convinced", and the lik:e have been put forward as equivalents and

their propriety as a form of words discussed and

sanctioned or disapproved, with much waste of

judicial effort."4

a statement clearly countenances a degree

flexibility in the civil requirement.


Dixon J (as he then was) said in Briqinshaw v. Briqinshaw

(1938) 60 CLR 336 at 361. "No doubt an opinion that a

state of fact exists may be held according to indefinite

gradations of certainty".

In the Bread Industry Commission (1949) Judge Stretton

said. "A Royal Commissioner may inform himself by whatever means he chooses. He does not act as a judicial officer.

deciding the matters in issue between contending parties

and arriving at the decision to which he is led by a

preponderance of probability. His function is that of an

inquirer seeking truth. Insofar as the rights of persons

may ultimately be affected by legislative or other action

taken upon his findings, he will impose upon himself the


duty to be satisfied only upon convincing proof."

The Commission holds that the standard of proof of any

fact in this Inquiry is the normal civil standard. It


must feel. as Dixon J. put it, "an actual persuasion of

i t s occurrence or existence before it can be found"



a ff irmative of an allegation must be made out to the

Co mmission's reasonable satisfaction.

That great common lawyer continued:

But [easonable satisfaction is no t a state of

mind t hat is attained or established

independently of the natu[e and consequence of

t he fact O[ facts to be proved. The seriousness

o f an allegation made. the i nherent unlikelihood o f an occurrence of a given description, or the

g[avity of the consequences flowing from a

pa rticular finding are considerations which must affect the answer t o the question whether the

i ssue has been proved to the reasonable

satisfaction of the Tribunal. In such matters,

'[easonable satisfaction' should not be produced by inexact proofs, indefinite testimony, or

indirect inferences. (emphasis added) 7

Later His Honour said:

It is often said that such an issue as fraud must

be proved 'clearly', 'unequivocally', 'strictly' O[ 'with certainty'.... This does not mean that

some standard of persuasion is fixed intermediate between the satisfaction beyond reasonable doubt [equi[ed upon a criminal inquest and the

[easonable satisfaction which in a civil issue

may , not must, be based upon a preponderance of

p[obability. It means that the nature of the

1ssue necessa[ily affects the process by which

reasonable satisfaction is attained.a

It will be seen then that the Commission regards the civil

standard as having some flexibility and it will apply the


principles set out above in deciding all questions of fact in this Inquiry.


It follows, however, from the

standard, that the con text in



flexibility of the

this Inquiry takes

place must not be left out of account. A number of the

issues which are posed

material, are issues

by the evidence and the background

of causation which arise in

consequence of allegations of untoward health consequences

resulting from exposure to chemicals during the war-like hostilities in Vietnam.

Those people who might have been exposed were members of

the Forces, as defined in the Repatriation (Special

Overseas Service) Act, 1962. Untoward health consequences

resulting from an occurrence that happened during a period of service overseas would entitle such a member to

repatriation benefits as last mentioned statute thereof which apply

Repatriation Act 1920

a result of the operation of the

and in particular ss 6 and 7

particular provisions of the

to claims brought by Vietnam

veterans. In those circumstances the repatriation context cannot be ignored.


Those sections are as follows:

6 (l) Upon the incapacity or death of a

member of the Forces whose incapacity

or death has resulted from an

occurrence that happened during a

period of special service of the member (including the contracting of a disease during such a period), the Commonwealth is, subject to this Act, liable to pay

to the member, to the dependants of the

member or to both, as the case may be,

pensions in accordance with Division l of Part III of the Repatriation Act as

applied by the next succeeding section.

7 ( l) Subject to this Act, the provisions of

Division l of Part III (other

sections 24, 42, 44 and 54)

sections 114. 114A, 119. l20A, 120B 121 of, and the Schedules to,

Repatriation Act extend relation to-(a) members of the Forces

meaning of this Act; and

to and


(b) the dependants of those members.

than and and the



Pr lor to l January 1985 the procedure for making a claim

was contained in ss 24AA and 24AB of the Repatriation Act 1920 which was as follows:

24AA. (l) A claim for pension -(a) shall be in accordance

approved form; and

with the

(b) shall be accompanied by such

available to the claimant

considers may support the claim.


evidence as he


( 2)

( 1)

Sub--sec t ion ( 1 )

impos i nq any onus of proof on a

claimant. (emphasis added)

Where a claim for pension is lodged

with the Department. the Secretary

shall cause an investigation to be made into the matters to which the claim


(2) Subject to any direction of the

Commission under sub-sect ion ( 2) of

section 27, the Secretary shall, after

completion of an investigation under

sub- section (1) in relation to a claim,

cause the claim to be submitted to a

Board for its consideration and


(3) A claim submitted to a Board or to the

Commission for its consideration and

determination shall be accompanied by-(a) any evidence furnished by the

claimant in support of the claim;


(b) all the records and other

documents relevant to the claim

that are under the control of the

Department, together with a report of the results of the

investigation in relation to the

claim carried out under

sub-section ( 1) .

Subsequent to 1 January 1985 the relevant section has been

s25. Relevant sub- sections of that section read:

25 (1) A claim for pension -

(a) shall be in accordance with a form

approved by the Commission;


(b) shall be accompanied by such

evidence available to the claimant as he considers may support his

claim; and

(c) shall be made by forwarding the

claim to the Secretary at an

address of the Department together with any evidence in support of

h i s claim referred to in paragraph

(b) .

(2) Sub- section (1) shall not be taken to

impose any onus of proof on a claimant

or to prevent a claimant from

submitting evidence in support of his

claim subsequently to the mak i ng, but

before the determination, of his claim . (emphasis added)

Pr i or t o 1 January 1985 s 24AB obliged the Secretary of

the De partment to cause an investigation to be made into

t h e matters to which the claim relates. When that

i nve stigation was concluded, the claim together with the

e v i dence furnished by the claimant, the relevant

d e partmenta 1 records and a report of the results of the

inv e stigation was to be submitted to a Repatriation Board

or to the Commission as the case may be for determination

wh e ther the incapacity arose out of or is attributable to

his war service (s. 27(1)). An appeal lay to the

Co mmission from any determination by a Board (s . 28).

Co rrespond i ng provisions after 1 January 1985 are ss 28

and 29 which are as follows :


28 (1) Where a claim is made for a pension in


accordance with sub- section 25(1), or an application is made for an increased pension in accordance with sub- section 26(1) or for a pension under

sub-section 26(2). the Secretary shall cause an investigation to be made into

the matters to which the claim or

application relates.

(2) The Secretary shall. upon completion of his investigation in respect of a claim

or application, cause the claim or

application to be submitted to the

Commission for its consideration and


(3) A claim or application submitted to the

Commission under sub- section (2) shall be accompanied by -

( 1)

(a) any evidence furnished by the

claimant or applicant in support

of the claim or application; and

(b) all the records and other

documents relevant to the claim or application that are under the

control of the Department,

including any evidence or

documents relevant to the claim or obtained in the course

of the investigation of the claim

or application under sub- section ( 1) .

It is the duty of the Commission -

(a) in considering a claim or

application submitted to it, to

satisfy itself with respect to. or

to determine. as the case

requires, all matters relevant to

the determination of the claim or

application; (b) to assess, from time to time. the

rates of pensions of members of

the Forces and their dependants,


and determine the dates of the

commencement and those pensions; cessation of

(c) to determine, in such cases as the

Commission deems proper, that

payment of pension shall be

suspended and fixing the date of

any such suspension; and

(d) to determine the date

re-commencement of a pension has been suspended.



(2) In this section, 'pension' does not

include service pension.

Hea ring and determination of claims lodged with the

Co mmi ss ion between June 1977 and 31 December 1984 were

d ete rm i ned by the Board, the Commission or the

Re pa t riation Review Tribunal (after March 1979) in

acco rdance wi t h s47(2) or s107VH(2), as the case may be,

wh i ch sub-sections were effectively in the form as amended

r e spec t ively by s 12 of Act No. 56 of 1977 (which

amendment came into effect on 16 June 1977) and s 26 of

Act No. 18 of 1979 (which amendment came into effect on 28

March 1979).

Prior to 1 January 1985 that section read:

47 (1) The Commission, or a Board, in hearing.

considering, determining or deciding a claim or application, and the

Commission, in hearing. considering or deciding an appeal -


(a) is not bound

legal forms or


by technicalities, rules of evidence;

(b) shall act according to substantial

justice and the merits and all the

circumstances of the case, and,

without limiting the generality of the foregoing. shall take into

account any difficulties that, for any reason, lie in the way of

ascertaining the existence of any fact . rna t t e r , cause or

circumstance. including any reason attributable to -(i) the effects of the passage

time, including the effect of

passage of time on

availability of witnesses; or


the the

( i i) an absence of. or a deficiency in,

relevant official records,

including an absence or deficiency resulting from the fact that an

occur renee that happened during

the service of a member of the

Forces was not reported to the

appropriate authorities.

(2) The Commission or a Board §hall grant a

claim or application, and the

Commission shall allow an appeal,

unless it is satisfied, beyond

reasonable doubt, that there are

insufficient grounds for granting the claim or application or allowing the

appeal. as the case may be. (emphasis


This standard and onus ot proof was carried over to claims

reviewed (prior to l January 1985) by the Repatriation

Review Tribunal (s107VH(2) of the Repatriation Act) and

since 1 January 1985 by the Veterans Review Board

(s107VG(3)) .

I I - ll

Am e ndments made to s47(2) by s21 of Act No 97 of 1984

wh i ch came into effect on l January 1985 are not relevant

to the present discussion. Those amendments did not alter

re l e vant words in s47(2). But radical amendments were made

to s47(2) on 6 June 1985 by sl6 of Act No 90 of 1985,

whi c h apply to determinations made after 6 June 1985 of

c laims lodged on and after 15 May 1985 (see s69 of Act No

90 o f 1985). The June 1985 amendments are discussed later

i n th i s Report in Chapter XIII.

Anyone considering the question of both the standard and

t h e o nus of proof required in the determination of a claim

fo r a pension under the Repatriation Act lodged between

June 1977 and 15 May 1985 unhindered by authority might

we l l have thought that the key words in s47 were the words

" i nsufficient grounds" in ss(2).

Th e June 1977 amendment to s47(2) has been described as "a

pi ec e of legislative legerdemain" (sleight- of - hand). 9

Obviously, if there are no grounds, then there must be

i nsufficiency and the Board or Commission would clearly be

s atisfied beyond reasonable doubt that there are

i nsufficient grounds for granting the claim. But it was

i n claims where there were some apparent grounds that

difficulties arose.


This was particularly so in cases of claims of incapacity

or death r.esulting from a disease of unknown aetiology,

such as cancer. In such cases mere speculation as to the

cause of the disease sometimes tended to be accepted as a

"sufficient ground." There were those who were of the

view that as a consequence of s47(2) of the Act prior to 6

June 1985



read in



such a claim

with s24AA( 2),

should always



This, so it was argued, was because the claimant bears no

onus of proof at a11 10 and the Board or the Commission

could never be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the

disease was not caused by or aggravated by overseas

service. Accordingly, so it was said, the Commission could

never be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the claim

should be rejected.

But s47(2) prior to 6 June 1985 did not provide that the

Commission disprove any fact necessary to establish

entitlement. The Board or the Repatriation Commission was directed to grant a claim unless a certain state existed,

namely, that there were insufficient grounds for granting

the claim. Where the determining body was satisfied

beyond reasonable doubt that any fact necessary to

I I-13

e s t ablish entitlement did not exist then the claim would

not be accepted.

In this Commission's view, mere speculation alone could

n e v e r be a ground (within the meaning of s47(2)) for

gran t ing any claim. As a consequence, the body determining

a c laim for incapacity or death resulting from a disease

o f u n known aetiology where there is no evidence at all as

to t he possible causes of the disease would necessarily,

as a ma tter of law. be required to determine that there

we re insufficient grounds for granting the claim.

BuL this Commission,

p r ovided for under

considering an appeal

prior t o 6 June 1985,

like any of the determining bodies

the Repatriation Act or any Court

from a decision of such body was.

bound by the decisions of the High

Co u rt o f Australia in The Repatriation Commission v. Law

(1981) 147 CLR 635 and The Repatriation Commission v .

0' Brien ( 1985) 59 ALJR 363. In the joint judgment of Gibbs

CJ, Wilson and Dawson JJ in the latter case at pp 367 and

368 those Justices indicate that the exposition contained

i n the join t judgment of Keely and Fitzgerald JJ of the

F'ederal Court of Australia appealed from should be

a ccepted, (subject to two qualifications). as reflecting a

proper understanding of the legislative intent with

II - 14

respect to the granting of pension claims under the

Repatriation Act. That Federal Court judgment is reported in (1984) 1 FCR 472.

The views (if any) expressed in this Report on "cause and

in respect of chemical-caused incapacity are

expressed after consideration of all the material before

the Commission but in the knowledge that science is a

progressing discipline. They are expressed in an effort to

be helpful to those charged with the administration of the

repa tria tion sys tern and conscious that on a case to case

basis this Commission's findings (given as they are on

general propositions and allegations) may be less helpful

than one might have hoped. In view of the so-called

sunset clause inserted into the amending Act No 90 of 1985

( s72), such

enunciated by

case in mind.

views are expressed with the principles

the High Court in Law's case and O'Brien's

So, where an allegation of relevant outcome has been made

by WAA. the Commission, if it is not satisfied that such

allegation has been proved in accordance with the civil

standard. may observe, (when it feels it is able and

should), that circumstances are such that it is satisfied

beyond reasonable doubt that the allegation is


. . . lll

tanc 1tu ; or as having no reasonable hypothesis to

s uppor t or that it is satisfied beyond reasonable

do ubt that there are insutf icient grounds for accepting

. 13

the allegat1on.

However, in situations where the Commission does make such

o bse rvat ions, iL must be remembered that those

obs e rva tions are to be qualified by the phrase "on the

material available and the evidence before the

Co mmission".

I t should be added however that such material and evidence

i s qu ite comprehensive. I t must also be remembered that

neither individuals, nor DVA nor the Commonwealth of

Au stral i a were represented before the Commission (although

DVA had observers present throughout the Commission ' s

public hear i ngs) so that any expressed views of this

Co mm ission are not of course binding on parties to any

c la i m brought under the Repatriation Acts.

Fur t her, the Commission considers that it should have

r e gard to the sections of the Repatriation Acts relevant

t o the question of the onus and the standard of proof when

c onsider i ng what recommendations it might make.



Another important influence or contextual rna t ter bearing

upon standard of proof is the epidemiological nature of

the causation aspects of this Inquiry.

The case for WAA. in a nutshell. is that exposure to

chemical agents in Vietnam has and is causing illnesses

amongst veterans and birth defects amongst their

children. This is classically an epidemiological case.

Epidemiology is concerned with the patterns of disease

occurrence in human populations and the factors that

influence those patterns. The results of an epidemiologic

investigat i on may show a statistical association between a disease and an exposure or risk factor. The usual

criteria for inferring that such an association is causal include the following:

(a) The statistical strength of the association;

(b) The occurrence of a dose response relationship (the

response is proportional to the dose of risk factor or


I I-17

(c) Observation that a decrease in an exposure is followed

by a decrease in the frequency of the disease;

{d) The temporal sequence of the relationship (i.e., the

risk factor or exposure almost always precedes the

outcome or disease);

(e) The consistency or reproducibility of the association;

(f) The specificity of the association; and

(g) The biological plausibility of the association.

Support for a causal association is the stronger as more

of these criteria are met.

The relationship of the risk factor and the disease are

expressed in a number of ways: absolute risk, relative

risk, odds ratio, and attributable risk.

That these are different things is important and that

absolute risk and relative risk are very different things

is critical in the standard of proof context.


By way of example, the annual incidence of lung cancer

amongst white Americans who smoke is approximately 1 per

1000 persons. That is if you are a smoker you have one

chance in 1000 of contracting lung cancer. However, the

proportion of lung cancer attributable to smoking is close

to 85\. The relative risk of developing lung cancer is 10

. . k . k 14 t1mes greater 1n smo ers than 1n non-smo eis.

Thus, even though a white American smoker does not have a

50.1\ or greater probability of acquiring lung cancer, it

is more probable than not that smoking is a cause of lung


Toxic tort litigation has not reached proportions in

Australia similar to those pertaining in the United

Stat€s. Accordingly the very difficult problems that

small absolute risks combined with even substantially

increased relative risks have not yet exercised our

appellate courts.

Three American cases give important insights into the

difficulties of applying routine standard of proof notions to epidemiological cases.


In Green v American Tobacco 15 Company relative risk was

disregarded in favour of an emphasis on absolute risk.

The case was based upon a claim by Mr Green that he had

contracted lung cancer as a result of smoking the

defendants company's cigarettes for 56 years and that the

defendant, the manufacturer, should be held 1 iable on the

grounds of a breach of implied warranty of fitness of the


The Court ruled in favour of the defendant. Although

there was much conflicting epidemiological and laboratory

testimony from numerous experts the trial judge found and

the Court of Appeal later affirmed that the plaintiff died

from lung cancer caused by smoking the named cigarettes.

However the Appeal Court ruled that the manufacturer was

not liable because the majority of persons who smoke

cigarettes do not develop lung cancer and because persons who have never smoked cigarettes may acquire the disease.

A powerful dissenting judgment pointed to the absurdity

that if a manufacturer had manufactured a million cans of

tinned meat, and one tin contained botulism, and that

killed only 4 or 5 people, would he have escaped

liability? Why then should the manufacturer of cigarettes escape because his product only kills a sma 11 proportion

of those who choose to smoke the manufacturer's cigarettes.


The Court in that case seemed t o rule that the plaintiff

was a "special case" rather than accepting the deductive

logic of statistical inference.

In another case, Bethlehem Steel Company v The Industrial

A . d c . . 16 cc 1 ent omm1 ss 1on , 10 employees working in Bethlehem

Steel San Francisco Ship Building Yard claimed that they contracted kerato conjunctivitis whilst working. The

Company did not dispute that there was a epidemic of the

disease amongst its employees 280 cases in 13,000

employees but argued that there was an epidemic

throughout the San Francisco area.

Th i s was rebutted since statistically there would have had

to have been 14,000 cases amongst the 700,000 living in

Sa n Francisco i.f the epidemic was city-wide.

Ophthalmologists' evidence was tha t there were

cons i derably less. The Court on appeal ruled in favour of

the employees.

A third case was Reyes

. 17

v Wyeth Laboratories . A young

child living in Mission, Texas, developed poliomyelitis 2

weeks after receiving a vaccine from the County Health

Department. The father. as plaintiff. alleged that the

illness was the result of the vaccine.


Eight epidemiological and laboratory experts called by the

defendant gave evidence that the virus which caused her

illness was probably the epidemic "wild" virus strain and not a vaccine virus strain. Those witnesses included

experts from the American Academy of Pediactrics and the

Co nference of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.

The sole witness for the plaintiff was the attending

phys i cian. He testified that it was probable that the

c h i ld acquired poliomyelitis from the vaccine. The child

recovered damages and was successful in the Appeal Court.

In this particular case the evidence of the attending

physician was accepted and indeed it seems that the trial

judge refused even to thoroughly instruct the jury on the

no t ion of relative risks and the relative risk of the

vaccine causing the disease as opposed to the risk of the

wild strain which was epidemic at the time . Rather, he

l eft the question baldly as "Whose evidence do you

accept?" 18

The difficulty may be expressed in this way. If 100

people in every 10,000 1 i ving within a certain area get

the disease, purple foot, in any event, whereas if 150 of

every 10,000 people who work in tin factories within that


ar:ea get pur:ple foot, the odds are still 2:1 against any

tin factor:y employee's fac tor:y exposur:e. How

disease being caused

can it then be said

by his

that on

tin the

balance of pr:obabi l.ities his tin factory exposure caused

his purple foot?

Logically, he ought to be compensated

r:isk of suffering purple foot - namely,

if his damages total $10,000 then

recover only $3333.3 in a successful

employer. the owner of the tin factory.

for the increased

33 1/3\. So that

perhaps he should

action against his

The Commission raises these matters at this stage simply

to "flag" what it per:ceives as a vexed problem in this

Inquir:y as well as toxic tort litigation generally.

Epidemiology has laid down bases or rules which can be

used to derive biological inferences about the

relations hip be tween a factor and a disease. These were

stated by Professor Alfred A.S. Evans in a formal way as


1. The prevalence rate

significantly higher of


the disease should be

those exposed to the

hypothesized cause than in controls not so exposed


(the cause may be present in the external environment

or as a defect in host responses).

2. Exposure to the hypothesized cause should be more

frequent among those with the disease than in controls

without the disease when all other risk factors are

held constant.

3. Incidence of the disease should be significantly

higher in those exposed to the cause than in those not

so exposed, as shown by prospective studies.

4. Temporally, the disease should follow exposure to the

hypothesized causative agent with the distribution of

incubation periods on a log-normal-shaped curve.

5. A spectrum of host responses should follow exposure to

the hypothesized agent along a logical biologic

gradient from mild to severe.

6 . A measurable host response following exposure to the

hypothesized cause should have a high probability of

appearing in those lacking this response

exposure (eg, antibody, cancer cells) or



increase in magnitude if present before exposure; this


response pattern should occur infrequently in persons

not so ·exposed.

7. Experimental reproduction of the disease should occur

more frequently in animals or man appropriately

exposed to the hypothesized cause than in those not so

exposed ; this exposure may be deliberate in

volunteers. experimentally induced in the laboratory,

or demonstrated in a controlled regulation of "natural

experiment" exposure.

8. Elimination or modification of the hypothesized cause

(or of the vector carrying it) should decrease the

incidence of the disease (e.g. control of polluted

water. removal of tar from cigarettes. killing

mosquito larvae).

9. Prevention or modification of the host's response on

exposure to the hypothesized cause should decrease or

el i minate the disease (eg, immunization. drugs to

lower cholesterol. specific lymphocyte transfer factor

in cancer).

10. All of the relationships and findings should make

. . . . . 19

b1olog1cal and ep1dem1olog1c sense.


The mere statement of these criteria points up the

futility of generalization such as that contained on page 9 of the initial submissions of VVAA which baldly states:

The submission is that a very large

toxic chemicals were used in Vietnam. these could cause illnesses.20

number of

Any one of

Accordingly, the Commission, when deciding questions of

fact, will apply the principles referred to in respect of

the civil standard of proof, remembering that such

standard is flexible. So that, in reaching a decision as

to whether a particular issue has been proved to the

reasonable satisfaction of the Commission, it may be that

such dec is ion might reflect relevant epidemiological

findings in accordance with the epidemiological principles

referred to.












See The Bread Industry Commission Report 1949 pp 5 and 6.

Communism Commission Report, 1949, p 7.

Hallett. L R. Royal Commissions and Boards of

Inquiry. Some Legal and Procedural Aspects. The Law Book Company Limited, Sydney, 1982, p 164.

Wigmore "Treatise on the Law of Evidence" 2nd Ed . (1923) Vol 5, section 2498

Bread Industry Commission Report. (1949) p 5

Briqinshaw v. Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336 at 361.

Ibid. at p 362

Ibid at pp 362-3.

The Repatriation Commission v. O'Brien (1985) 59 ALJR 363 per Brennan J. at p 369 .

10. The Repatriation Commission v. Law (1981) 147 CLR

635 per Murphy J. at p 640.

ll. Law's case (1980) 147 FLR 57 at 68 (Full Court of

the Federal Court of Australia)

12. O'Brien's case (supra) per Brennan J at p 369.

13. Ibid per Gibbs CJ, Wilson and Dawson JJ at pp 367.

14. Exhibit 1959 pp 1197 - 1224.

15. 409 F 2d 1166 (1969)

16. 135 p 2d 153 (1943)

17. 498 F.2d 1264 (1974).

18. Shades of Hocking v. Bell Privy Council- (1947)

75 CLR 125; High Court (1945) 71 CLR 430, and the

old adage, "Hard cases make bad law".

I I-27

19. Evans, Professor A.S., Causation and Disease:

The Henle-Koch Postulates Revisited, 49 Yale J. Biology & Med, 1976 pp 175-195.

20. Exhibit 1040 at p 10.











6.1 Introduction

6.2 Locations and Methods















The Commission was aware that there were some 45,000

Australian personnel who had served in Vietnam during the

relevant period and that VVAA claimed only some 9,000

members some of whom were not veterans but family members

or friends.

It was essential that the Commission hear from as many

veterans and their families as possible. Accordingly,

arrangements were made for advertisements to be placed in

newspapers throughout asking any person who

considered that he or she could assist the Inquiry in any

way to lodge written submissions with the commission.

In addition, a "procedure" document was designed to give

guidance to those seeking leave to appear before the

Commission in respect to such matters as observer status,

leave to appear, the mode of evidence, style of hearings

and the like.

I II-1

This document provided, amongst other matters. for the


(a) Leave to appear.

( i) Leave to appear will not be granted prior to the

applicant for leave filing a written submission

to the Commission;

(ii) All applicants for leave to appear will be

required to satisfy the Commission that:-(a) they have a peculiar or material interest to

advance not being an interest merely shared

with a substantial section of the public;

(b) they are the object of some allegation in

existence before or emerging during the

course of the Commission;

(c) they are likely to, in any way, be

prejudiced by the report of the Commission;


(d) their needs cannot be met by Counsel

Assisting the Commission.

I II-2



The object of requiring a written submission from all

those who sought leave to appear was to obtain in advance

not only an indication of the interest of the person

seeking leave to appear but more importantly what he would

seek to establish. As was said on 14 July 1983 when the

Commission was formally opened:

Any person or organisation claiming to have the

kind of special interest above referred to, will

be pr esumed to have sufficient interest to

prepare A CASE. (emphasis added) This will be a

pre - requisite of actual appearance. Accordingly any leave granted today is conditional only .

Such a case will be in the form prescribed and

will summarise the position of the interested

party or group . It will also provide a statement

of the evidence it is proposed to place before

the Commission through Counsel Assisting, and the names of witnesses. It should also include all

reference works or papers to which the party

would wish the Commission to have regard.

(emphasis added).

This was of course a tall order. Because it was a tall

order and because there was a huge amount of research to

be done in advance. (if hearings on this complex topic

were to be meaningful) a period of almost 5 months was

allowed for the procedures to be complied with.


3 . VVAA' s CASE

As VVAA had been most active in seeking this Commission

and because the Commission had been led to believe that

the Government had agreed to it primarily as a result of

views expressed by VVAA's scientific adviser, John Evans,

the Commission keenly looked forward to the receipt of

VVAA's written case.

However, the receipt of the

least, an anti-climax. The

submissions was, to say the


67 page document submitted

over the signature of Senior Counsel for VVAA was a

farrago of generality, hyperbole, mis - statement,

mis - spelling and bald assertion.

No indication of any statistical or other scientific basis

for the generality of the claims appeared. By way of

example, no distinction was drawn between acute and

chronic , or even between immediate and delayed effects of

chemical agents. Indeed, questions of dose, absolutely

critical to any intelligent analysis, were simply ignored.

As a result of this non-statement of a case on behalf of

VVAA the Commission was forced to speculate as to what

case there might be and indeed felt obliged to instruct


Counsel Assisting to put together the best case that could

be made for veterans generally.

Although some five months had been allowed for the

preparation of a written case, i t s actual receipt rai sed

doubts as to whether t hose advising VVAA had understood

the Commission's need for particularity.

The lack of particularity was also of concern to Counsel

for Monsanto . During a formal hearing of the Commissi o n

on 15 February 1984 he said, supporting the tender of

letters requesting particulars. 2

MR O'KEEFE: We received a statement from the Vietnam Veterans Association in which there were a large number of highly extravagant

and exaggerated statements made. We asked

on 12 January for details of the matters to

support those statements. There was a

silence; no reply, not even an

acknowledgment. We asked again on 24

January: again, no reply. We asked on 31

January: still to date no reply. With

great respect, there has to be some

definition of a case that is being made and

it cannot just be made in the most

extravagant and broad terms; indeed, with

respect, terms that are internally

inconsistent one with the other, without

there being some definition or alternatively some inference drawn from the absence of

such definition.3

The commission itself gave a clear indication of its

concern by saying:

II I - 5

THE COMMISSIONER (to Mr Mcinnes): I do not pretend to have read this letter (seeking

particulars) through in detail but just

glancing at it, it brings out the generality

of your submissions which I do not want to

talk about at this stage. However I am

aware and I do not mind saying this

that the generality of your submissions. of your prior submissions, have been discussed between Mr Coombs and myself on more than

one occasion.4

In fact, Senior Counsel Assisting had spoken personally to

Senior Counsel for VVAA shortly after the receipt of

VVAA' s submission on 25 November 1983 regarding the lack

of particulars and requested details of the general

allegations. No additional particulars were forwarded on behalf of VVAA despite many requests. In normal

circumstances. the leave that had been granted to VVAA to

appear would have been withdrawn immediately but it was

felt that in the circumstances, to do so would have

achieved little but complaints made publicly by that body

or its officials that they were not being given a fair go.

Such a course could also have brought about a position

where veterans generally were not represented before the



Written submissions as to Exposure dated 15 February 1984

were filed on behalf of Monsanto Australia Limited in

II I-6

accordance with the procedures laid down in the document

referred to above. Such submissions were exhibited . 5


Pursuant to the advertisements placed in newspapers

throughout Australia, the Commission received in excess of

150 written submissions. Each of the submissions received

before the formal hearings began was carefully studied.

The particulars referred to in these submissions were kept

well in mind throughout the formal hearings of the

Commission and during the preparation of this Report.


6.1 Introduction

The Commission had become aware that throughout Australia

there were many veterans and/or members of their families

who wished to contribute but for various reasons were not

anxious to forward written submissions.

As stated, there were some 45,000 Australians who served

in Vietnam: each with his or her own experiences; each

with his or her own story to tell. Even if only a small


percentage wished to contribute orally, to call such

people as witnesses would have been prohibitive both as to

time and cost. For example, if 5 per cent of Australia's

Vietnam veterans were called as witnesses and each took

but one day of the Commission's time then that task alone

would take eight years. Hence, some efficient means had

to be established whereby veterans were provided with an

opportunity for being heard.

A number of concerns were evident: some Vietnam veterans,

still serving in the armed forces, believed that their

careers or entitlements might be affected if

contributed. As one such veteran put it:

I have been reluctant to reveal any information

as to how I feel emotionally, physically and

mentally to the Vietnam involvement. As I am

still a serving member with pensionable age fast approaching I have felt threatened that any

disclosure of how I feel may have an adverse

affect on my career prospects. I trust any

information as discussed in this paper is in the

strictest confidence.

Others, receiving pensions or other benefits,



concerned that information provided to the Commission

might find its way into the repatriation system. Some

veterans were concerned that there might be adverse

consequences if their employers found out that they served

in Vietnam since it might be thought that they would be

I II-8

more likely to be sick and thereby absent from work more

often. Even if these fears were without foundation the

fact was that they existed and had to be overcome.

More common concerns resulted from such factors as the

need to deal with personal health details or recall

unpleasant experiences. It was also apparent that many

veterans were reluctant to speak of their experiences in

Vietnam due to the widespread unpopularity of Australia's

involvement in that conflict. Some veterans didn't relish

the prospect of cross-examination and the publicity which

may accompany giving evidence in a normal courtroom


Yet it was important to gather information from individual

veterans for a number of reasons. Among the allegations

with which this Royal Commission had to deal was the

that official records were lacking or suggestion

inaccurate. Such documentary material is frequently

useful when investigating

years previously due to

matters which occurred some

the understandable loss of

memory. While the recollections of one veteran might not

be reliable, purely because he is endeavouring to recall

in 1983 or 1984 something which occurred between 1962 and


1973, if veterans have similar recollections then the

per s uasiveness of such evidence improves with the number

of veterans.

Also , by virtue of paragraQh (g) of the Terms of

Re ference, the Commission was required to investigate and

report on "the extent to which adequate safety precautions

we re taken". Clearly, an adequate answer to this aspect

o f the inquiry was not to be found on merely considering

the documentation outlining the safety precautions which

should have been observed: a consideration of the

experiences of a large number of veterans better enables

the Commission to decide

precautions were observed.

c onsidered in Chapter IV.

the extent to which these

This aspect is specifically

F'ur thermore, with regard to the prevalence of the health

effects alleged to be related to the use of chemical

agents it is necessary to consider the incidence or rate

of occurrence as any individual case proves little , if

anything, due to the range of alternative possible

causes. For example, to call evidence from a veteran

suffering from lung cancer does not establish that such

cancer is attributable to Vietnam service as the cancer

might be related to his smoking habits. However, to

II I-10

continue the example, if the incidence of lung canc er is

twice as high in Vietnam veterans when compared with the

incidence in a section of the general population with

comparable smoking habits then some conclusion might b e

possible. Of course, this example is a n


However, the morbidity study which was sought by the

Commission6 would have addressed issues of this nature .

In the absence of the study, the only informat i on

available on the general health of large numbers of

veterans is that which can be gleaned from the r e sult of

the Informal Sessions and from DVA records . Whilst the r e

are a number of reservations which bear on the extent to

which valid conclusions c an be drawn, the program of

Informal Sessions has yielded useful information whi c h

would not otherwise have been available .

6.2 Locations and Methods

Informal Sessions enabled individual veterans, their wive s

and families an opportunity to contribute on the i r

experiences with the repatriation system and their

involvement with various veterans organisations. including

(but not limited to) VVAA . Of course, by virtue of a

III - 11

Government grant, VVAA had legal representation throughout

this Commission up to and including the preparation of its final written submission . Absence of the chosen legal

representatives after that time has not disadvantaged VVAA.

However. the rna jori ty of Vietnam veterans are not members

of that body and the Informal Sessions provided a

convenient and relatively inexpensive means of obtaining

the views of many Vietnam veterans who were not members of

that association.

By conducting Informal Sessions Vietnam veterans were

given an opportunity to be heard: to air their concerns

and grievances to an independent inquiry which did not

adopt a "put it in writing and send it to Sydney"

approach. The importance of this aspect should not be

underestimated, given the concern amongst many Vietnam

veterans that their plight is not adequately known and

understood. Veterans in remote areas obtained a better

appreciation of the issues with which the Commission was

dealing and how it was going about its task.

A number of people sought to contribute their experiences

of chemical products in an agricultura l environment.

Although the Terms of Reference are directed towards the

II I -12

usage of chemical agents in the Vietnam conflict, a

special format was designed to assist those who wished to

make a submission and many such submissions were received.

Gosford was used as the pilot area in early October,

1983. Subsequently, Informal Sessions were held

throughout N.S.W. in the latter part of 1983 and early

1984. With minor modifications based on the experience

gained, Informal Sessions were then conducted in each

other State and Territory of the Commonwealth throughout


In order to decide on locations, information was gathered

from the Vietnam Veterans' Counselling Service and WAA.

Other factors which influenced the schedule of locations

included population, the location of army bases and the

existence. of local veterans' organisations. A total of 58

locations were involved:

Adelaide Albany Albury/Wodonga Alice Springs

Armidale Ballarat Bathurst Beg a

Bendigo Brisbane Broken Hill Bunbury


Grafton Hobart Ipswich Kalgoorlie

Karratha Kempsey Launceston Lismore Melbourne Mil dura Mount Gambier Mount Isa

Cairns Canberra Carnarvon Coffs Harbour Coolangatta/Tweed Heads Dalwallinu Dandenong Darwin Derby Dubbo Esperance Frankston Fremantle Gee long Gerald ton Gosford Goulburn

Newcastle Orange Parkes Perth Port Augusta Port Macquarie Rockhampton Sale Surfers Paradise Sydney Tamworth Taree Tennant Creek Toowoomba Townsville Wagga Wagga Wollongong

The program of Informal Sessions involved advance media

publicity followed by localised interviews . Information was provided to the print media, often together with a

photograph of the person conducting the sessions. This

served to assist veterans to identify ' the Commission's

representative. The newsroom of each radio station was

also provided with information and normally an on-air

interview was used to reinforce the message. If the

station's format and facilities permitted, a talk-back

session was included. This proved to be a particularly

effective means of stressing the independence of the

Commission, indicating the topics on which information was

sought and reassuring veterans that the Commission wanted

to hear what they had to say. Similarly television news,


current affairs and variety programs were used to

publicise the work of the Commission in general and the

Informal Sessions in particular.

Interviews were subsequently conducted and contributions

were received in three particular areas: experience of

chemical agents in the Vietnam conflict, health effects

experienced since and how the various Government

departments and agencies have handled their complaints and


Wherever possible, Informal Sessions were held in a room

within the local council chambers or Courthouse in order

to stress the independence of the Commission. As a number

of veterans of the Vietnam conflict are critical of the

Government and/or the RSL, Government offices and RSL

clubs were avoided wherever possible in case such a

location deterred responses.

Initially, appointments were not made although this became essential as the response increased. However, every

effort was made to accommodate those who arrived without an appointment. A toll free number was installed to

enable appointments to be made by the veterans throughout

Australia for the cost of a local call. It is important

III - 15

to note that whenever the numbers wishing to contribute

exceeded the time available then the sessions were

extended in order to meet the demand for them.

Obviously it was not always possible to hold the sessions

outside normal working hours although this was done on

many occasions by scheduling evening, lunch- time or

weekend appointments. Those veterans who were unable to

attend the sessions for reasons such as distance or

employment were encouraged to contribute a submission

e ither in writing or by using the toll - free phone number.

Guide! ines and format sheets were forwa-rded upon request.

Every effort was made to overcome obstacles which hindered

contributions: those who had difficulty putting their

thoughts on paper were interviewed over the phone;

veterans serving prison sentences were visited whenever

the Commission became aware that they wished to contribute.

No - one was refused attendance at Informal Sessions merely

because their information related to an experience with

chemical agents in an agricultural environment . Clearly ,

such experiences were useful in a number of areas: the

extent to which precautions were taken and their

effectiveness; the type of exposure involved (being either long-term or intense for a short duration due to seasonal


factors) and the health effects experienced by those who had had an association with chemical products whose

ingredients coincided with those being cons ide red by the Commission.

Although the response rates were low in some areas. they

were generally excellent. It is believed that there were

a number of reasons for this: media co- operation, local

support and the efforts of those assisting the Commission .


list co-operation was such that it

all the organisations which

is not possible to

contributed to the

success of the Informal Sessions program. Many letters of

appreciation have been forwarded from the Commission. In

outlining but a few examples it is hoped that those not

mentioned will that the list does not pretend

to be other than a summary:

(a) the Brisbane Courier Mail which, through their

reporter Ken Blanch, printed numerous articles in

relation to the Brisbane Informal Sessions; (b) Radio 2GO, Gosford which agreed to participate in the

initial pilot stage; (c) Radio 4AY, Townsville which scheduled 78 thirty-second

announcements free of charge to assist in publicising

the sessions in that city;


(d) Radio 2UE, Sydney which devoted almost a full hour

between 9 and lOam to a talk-back session which gave

many listeners the opportunity to ask questions and/or

give their views; and

(e) the TV Channel 0 in Brisbane which devoted a half-hour

episode of the program "Meet the Press" to the work of

the Commission.

Such support was of inestimable value.

Local people and groups provided significant help. Again,

a list of but a few examples is set out:

(i) The co-operation and assistance of the Wagga

Wagga ex-Vietnam Association in general and David

Gardiner in particular both in respect of the

Wagga Wagga Informal Sessions and a subsequent

visit which the Commission made to speak with the members of that body.

(ii) Ted Warner, secretary of the local branch of the

VVAA in Sale, who assisted by scheduling a large

number of appointments for Informal sessions in

that city which ultimately occupied four man-days.




Col and Joan Evans of the Vietnam Veterans'

Family Group Western Australia who made an

important contribution to the success of the WA


Bob Coombs in Taree who assisted both by

including a special segment in his weekly

"Diggers Talk" program on Radio 2RE and in

encouraging attendances.

(v) The efforts of Jim Simons who caused special

sessions to be located in Ipswich by virtue of a

telephone call to Counsel Assisting in the course

of a talk-back session conducted with Haydn


assisted Ipswich.

on radio

with the

4BC in Brisbane and then

appointment schedule for

(vi) Ray Jones, MLA for Cairns, who encouraged a


considerable number of non-veterans to

participate, especially with regard to the usage of chemical agents on the local railway system.

Brigadier-General Ross Buchan, the National

President of the Australian Army Training Team

Vietnam (AATTV) Association, who encouraged his

members and serving members of the armed forces

to participate in Canberra Informal Sessions .


The Commission also wishes to acknowledge the co-operation

and assistance received from local councils who

accommodated the Commission in so many areas.

In Chapter VI of this Report a brief resume of the

responses gathered from both the written submissions

forwarded to the Commission pursuant to the advertisements

referred to above and from the informal discussions

between the Commissioner and/or Counsel Assisting and some

2,000 veterans throughout Australia is set out.


From the above written submissions and information gleaned

before the end of 1983. issues for determination became

apparent, although VVAA's claims were not as clearly

defined as had been hoped.

A time-table for the calling of evidence during formal

sessions was drawn up. Evidence relative to the topic of

exposure, i.e., how Australian personnel may have been

exposed in Vietnam to chemical agents, either directly or

indirectly, was programmed for th& fortnight commencing 16 January 1984 . Thereafter. forma 1 hearings in relation to

the subject matters of toxicity, birth defects, morbidity,

II I-20

mortality, neuropsychology were arranged for varying

periods throughout the year.



l. Exhibit 1040.

2. Exhibit 1167.

3. Transcript at p 1678.

4 . Transcript at p 1678.

5 . Exhibit 1168A & B.

6. See Ch VI .


'Fair is foul, and foul is fair:

Hover through the fog and filthy air.'

- Macbeth, Act I Scene I



1. CHEMICALS USED 1.1 'Colour-coded' herbicides Why were Herbicides Used? 1.2 Other Herbicides

Tordon Borate Chlorate Distillate- Creosote Hyvar X(Bromacil)

Paraquat(Gramaxone) Diquat (Reglone) Evidence at Formal Hearings 1.3 Insecticides 2. EXPOSURE MODELS

Dr Donald crosby Dr Hermann Poiger Dr Ian Munro Professor Bo Holmstedt Dr Frank M. Dost

2,4-D and 2,4,5- T F'ood Inhalation Sprayers Evidence of John Bamford 3. DIRECT AERIAL EXPOSURE

3.1 HERBS Tapes Analysis 3.2 Spray Drift and Volatilisation 3.3 C Coy 5 RAR - August, 1969

3.4 Participation in Helicopter Spraying John Farquhar McMahon Clive Francis Cotter John Cecil Rhodes Michael John Haxell 3.5 Evidence of veterans 4. NUl DAT INCIDENTS

4.1 Rubber trees

William Orril Rodgers Raymond Arthur Daniel Ronald Bruce Harris Stanford Radley Freeman 4.2 Dam/water Supply 4.3 Perimeter Spraying 4.4 Holt/Lugg Trials 5. INDIRECT EXPOSURE

5.1 Transit Through Defoliated Areas 5.2 Exposure via Food 5 . 3 Exposure via Water

5.4 Exposure via Soil



33 34 38 42 43 46 47 58 64 88 88

92 99 101 104 107 112 112 113 113 116 117 123 132 137 137 138 139 142 144 146 146 147 148 152 155 159 161 164 181 190 194 199 204


6.1 Instructions 214

Manual of Army Safety, 1970 220

Current Instructions 220

Personnel Engaged in Spraying 221

6.2 Observance 224


7.1 Disposal of the 'colour- coded' herbicides 227

7.2 Disposal of surplus Australian herbicides 228

7.3 Insecticides 229

7 . 4 Lack of VVAA Contribution 230

8 . CONCLUSIONS 8.1 Insecticides 233

8.2 Herbicides 234

8 . 3 Pesticides Generally 235







l.l 'Colour-coded' herbicides

A large number of chemical agents were used in Vietnam.

Hence, Australian servicemen were potentially exposed to:




cacodylic acid and



acid (2,4,5-T); 2,4

(2,4-D): picloram:

cacodylate: diquat:

paraquat: bromocil: borate chlorate and creosote .

Other chemicals in these herbicides included the

contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-dibenzo-p-dioxin

(TCDD). Some of these chemicals were used in

combination and with solvents such as distillate

(dieseline) and kerosene.


Insecticides: Baygon; Diethyl-toluamide; malathion; diazinon;

lindane; chlordane; dieldrin; pyrethrins; dibutyl


phthalate and DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane) . Other chemicals included in these

insecticides were contaminants, emulsifiers and

surfactants (surface-acting or wetting agents).

Public attention has focused on the 'colour coded'

herbicides, namely Agents Orange, Blue, Green, Pink,

Purple and Orange II. These compounds were so named due to

the colour of a band painted, for identification purposes,

on the 55 gallon (US) drums in which these formulations

were supplied. Pages I-3 to I-7 of the Report of Young et


al, which became Exhibit 906, contains a useful

description of the nature and composition of these


1. Herbicide Orange

Orange was a reddish-brown to tan colored liquid soluble in diesel fuel and organic solvents, but

insoluble in water. One gallon (US) (gal) of

Orange theoretically contained 4. 21 pounds ( lb) of the active ingredient of 2,4-D and 4.41 lb of

the active ingredient of 2,4,5-T. Orange was

formulated to contain a 50:50 mixture of the

n-bu tyl esters of 2, 4-D and 2. 4. 5-T. the

percentages of the formulation typically were:

n-butyl ester of 2,4-D free acid of 2,4-D

n-butyl ester of 2,4,5-T


49.49 0.13 48.75

free acid of 2,4,5-T inert ingredients (e.g. butyl alcohol and ester moieties)

2. Herbicide White

l. 00 0.62

White was a dark brown viscous liquid that was

soluble in water but insoluble in organic

solvents and diesel fuel. One gal of White

contained 0.54 lb of the active ingredient of

4 - amino - 3,5,6-trichloropicolinic acid {picloram) and 2.00 lb of the active ingredient of 2,4 - D.

White was formulated to contain a 1:4 mixture of

the triisopropanolamine salts of picloram and

2,4-D. The percentages of the formulation were:

triisopropanolamine salt of picloram triisopropanolamine salt of 2,4-D inert ingredient (primarily the solvent triisopropanolamine)

3. Herbicide Blue

10.2 39.6


Blue was a clear yellowish- tan liquid that was

soluble in water, but insoluble in organic

solvents and diesel fuel. One gal of Blue

contained 3.10 lb of the active ingredient

hydroxydimethyarsine oxide (cacodylic acid). Blue was formulated to contain both cacodylic

acid (as the free aci.d) and the sodium salt of

cacodylic acid (sodium cacodylate). The

percentages of the forumlation were:

cacodylic acid sodium cacodylate surfactant sodium chloride water

antifoam agent

4.7 26.4 3.4 5.5 59.5


** It should be noted that cacodylic acid and

sodium cacodylate contained arsenic in the form of the pentavalent, organic arsenical. This form of arsenic is essentially

non-toxic to animals as can be noted by the

LD 50 value for white rats.

[The LDso

species is

population toxicity.]

of a substance for a particular

the dose at which 50% of the dosed

will die. It is a standard measure of


Of the total formulation, 15.4 percent was

arsenic in the organic form. only trace

quantities were present in the inorganic form.

The term Herbicide Blue was first applied to

powdered cacodylic acid in 1961 through 1964.

This first Herbicide Blue contained 65 percent

active ingredient cacodylic acid and 30 percent sodium chloride and was mixed in the field with


4. Herbicide Orange II

Orange II was the code-name of a formulation

similar to Orange with the difference being the

substitution of the issocytl ester of 2,4,5-T for the n-butyl ester of 2,4,5-T. The physical,

chemical and toxicological properties of Orange II were similar to those of Orange. Orange II

was produced solely by one chemical company.

Approximately 950,000 gal of Orange II were

shipped to South Vietnam during 1968 and early

1969. How much Orange I I was returned to

Johnston Island from South Vietnam in April 1972 was not determined.

5. Herbicide Purple

Purple was first formulated in the mid - 1950s time period. It was used in the Camp Drum, New York, defoliation test in 1959. The formulation was a

brown liquid soluble in diesel fuel and organic

solvents but insoluble in water. One gal of

Purple contained 8.6 lb of the active ingredients 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. The percentages of the

formulation were:

n-butyl 2,4-D n-butyl 2,4,5-T iso-butyl 2,4,5-T The physical, chemical

proper ties of Purple were

described for orange.

6. Herbicide Pink

50 30 20

and toxicological

similar to those

Pink was a formulation of 2,4,5-T used

extensively in early RANCH HAND operations and in the defoliation test program of 1963 and 1964 in

Thailand. It was a mixture of the n-butyl and


iso-butyl esters of 2,4,5-T. No data were

available on the physical, chemical, or

toxicological properties of Pink. However,

Darrow et al reported that it contained 8.16 lb

active ingredient per gal. The percentages of

P i nk formulation were:

n-butyl 2,4,5 - T iso- butyl 2,4,5 - T

7. Herbicide Green

60 40

Green was a single component formulation

consisting of the n - butyl ester of 2,4,5-T. It

was used in limited quantities in the 1962 - 1964


Agent Green was thus used before Australian operations

officially commenced in South Vietnam and, accordingly, this herbicide is not dealt with subsequently in any


Military Assistance Command Directive (MACV) 525-1 dated 12 August 1969 contained the following definitions:

( l) Agent ORANGE . An oil-based herbicide which is a systemic defoliant effective against

broadleaf vegetation, achieving maximum

effect i n four to six weeks. with a duration

of approximately twelve months.

( 2) Agent WHITE. A water - based herbicide which

is a systemic defoliant effective against

broadleaf vegetation, achieving maximum effect in six to eight weeks, with a

duration of approximately twelve months.

( 3) Agent BLUE. A water-based herbicide which

is a nonsystemic desiccant used primarily

against grasses, taking effect in 24 to 48

hours and killing the leaves in two to four



Table 1. taken from Table 2 on page I-9 of Exhibit 903.

s ets out the number of US gallons (1 US gallon .83

Imperial Gallons 3.785 litres) of military herbicide

procured by the US Department of Defense and disseminated

in South Vietnam during the period January 1962 to

December 1964.

Military Herbicide

Blue Green Pink Purple



Gallons of Formulation

5 200

8 208

122 792 145 000

281 200

Ta ble 2. taken from Table 3 on page I-10 of Exhibit 906,

s e t s out estimated number of (US) gallons of military

herbicide procured by the US Department of Defense and

disseminated in South Vietnam during the period January

1965 to February 1971.


Herbicide Craig2 NAS Report3 westing4

(1974) (1974) (1976)

Orange 10 645 904 11 266 929 11 712 860

White 5 632 904 5 274 129 5 239 853

Blue 1 144 746 1 137 470 2 161 456

Total 17 423 554 18 936 068 19 114 169


These estimates have been obtained by examining records of

quanti ties supplied and quanti ties used. Comparison with other records was also possible, notably records of the

herbicide flight missions (dealt with more fully in

section 3.1. hereafter). Craig's estimates were based

solely on procurement records whereas the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) estimates and those of Westing were

based on both procurement records and estimates: the

differences between these last two estimates arise from differing assumptions as to the amount of herbicide

d . h f . .


spraye 1n t e course o a m1ss1on.

Why were Herbicides Used?

A number of features of the Vietnam conflict led to the

use of herbicides: the terrain in Vietnam and the usage of

that jungle terrain by the enemy forces in the course of

their guerilla tactics involving hit and run coupled with concealment; concealment which took the form of concealed

roads, pathways and encampments which were invisible from

the air and even from the ground at close quarters and the

use of locally grown food as part of the war effort.

In deciding to use herbicides in the course of the Vietnam

conflict, the military authorities had two principal

objectives in mind: defoliation (both for offensive and


defensive purposes) and crop destruction. The former

ob jec t.i ve was defined as "the use of herbicides to cause

t rees and plants to lose their leaves in order to improve


t o plants to

the latter as "the application of herbicides 6

destroy their food value". The former

included defoliation around the precincts of allied

mili t ary sites and supply routes as well as suspected

enemy locations. However, the objectives have little, if

any, bearing upon the issues with which the Commission is

required to deal.

The differing objectives and the varying types of

v e getation within the region were significant factors

affecting the usage patterns of these herbicides. Agents Orange, Orange I I, Purple, Pink and Green (notably those

herbic i des containing 2,4,5-T) were effective on a wide

variety of woody and broadleaf species of vegetation .

However, grasses, bamboos and the like were less affected.

Pine trees were particularly susceptible to Agent White

which, being water soluble, was often used where spray

drift was to be kept to · a minimum such as near rubber

plantations. On the other hand, White was not favoured

for use on crops owing to the persistence of picloram in

soils. Agent Blue was the primary choice for crop

destruct i on missions, whether they were cereal or grain



IV- 8

As in the case of the quantities used, estimates of the

number: of a·cr:es treated with herbicides in South Vietnam

dur:ing the period fr:om January 1962 to Febr:uar:y 1971

var:y. Table 3, taken fr:om page 1 - 12 of Exhibit 906.

discloses thr:ee such estimates which make no allowance for: multiple coverage of any ar:ea .

Table 4 gives an indication of the number: of acr:es within

the thr:ee major: vegetational categories treated with

herbicides between 1962 and 1971 in South Vietnam. The

figures, derived fr:om Exhibit 906, page 1 - 13, r:epr:esent

about 90% of all ar:eas treated with either: single or:

multiple coverage.


Year: I r:ish et al NAS Repor:t Westing

1962 5 681 NAa 5 724

1963 24 947 NA 24 920

1964 93 842 NA 93 869

1965 221 559 75 50lb 221 552

1966 842 764 608 106 845 263

1967 1 707 758 1 570 114 1 707 784

1968 l. 330 836 l 365 479 l 696 337

1969 NA l 519 606

1970 NA 294 925 252 989

1971 NA l 259 3 346

a NA = data not available

b data for: per:iod August to December:


Category of vegetation

Inland forest Mangrove forest Cultivated crops



NAS Report

2 670 000

318 000 260 000

3 248 000


2 879 000

746 000 595 000

4 220 000

Certain governmental policies applied to the usage of

herbicides to accomplish these objectives in South Vietnam.

US policy directives existed in early days but the first

available directive and the earliest held on Australian

files is dated 22nd November 1967. These directives were revised from time to time.

ThA Army Report, 'Report on the Use of Herbicides,

Insecticides and Other Chemicals by the Australian Army in

South Vietnam', is in three volumes and was tabled in

Parliament by the then Minister for Defence in December,

1982. It was prepared by a team of Army officers under

the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Peele It was

compiled from original documents.

Those assisting the Commission spent many man- hours

spot-checking the Report against the source documents.

Those representing the VVAJo. availed themselves of a

similar opportunity. The Commission is satisfied that it is an accurate and carefully compiled document.


This Report which became Exhibit 892 contains a useful and

accurate summary of the US policy at pp 3-6 and 3-7 as


(a) Defoliation and

were ostensibly operation. crop destruction programs a Government of Vietnam

(b) The Military Assistance Service Fund (MASF) program suppl led the Government of Vietnam with the chemicals normally used for

herbicide operations.

(c) US personnel were involved in assisting the

Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces during

herbicide operations.

(d) Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) exercised command supervision,

co-ordination, liaison and control of all US Armed Forces in support of defoliation and

chemical crop destruction.

(e) Crop destruction required approval from the Commanding Officer, US Military Assistance Command Vietnam (COMUSMACV) and the US

Ambassador to Vietnam.

(f) Concurrence from the Province Senior Adviser was required for herbicide operations.

(g) All Free World Military Assistance Forces

[FWMAF] were required to comply with

Military Assistance Command Directive 525-1 dated 22 November 1967 [i.e. to abide with

this policy] when requesting herbicide


The US was the primary supplier of herbicides; it provided

the personnel and the means to execute the operations.

Furthermore, US personnel occupied the key positions in

controlling joint herbicide operations. However. the


policy was at pains to ensure that all levels of the US

and FWMAF command st .ructure gained the concurrence of the

Vietnamese authorities for herbicide operations.

A US investigation into herbicide operations was conducted

in 1968. The Report on the Herbicide Policy Review,

Am e r lean Embassy, Saigon, 28 August 1968 resu1 ted in a

complete revise/reprint of MACV Directive 525 - 1. The new

directive was dated 12 August 1969. Significantly, it


Policy. Special care will be taken in planning

and executing operations to prevent herbicide

damage to rubber trees. A no-spray zone of two

kilometres for helicopters and five kilometres for fixed - wing delivery will be maintained around active rubber plantations . B

E:xhibit 892, pp 3--9 to 3 -- ll details the changes of policy

l eading to the cessat i on of herbicide operations.

S ubo rdinate commanders were advised to cease using Agent

Or ange forthwith by COMUSMACV on 17 April 1970. Continued

us e of Agents White and Blue was permit ted. Three months

la t er on 17 July the directive was further amended by

cancelling all fixed - wing aerial defoliation missions.

The next significant alteration of US policy was on 31

January 1971 when I I Field Force Vietnam advised

subordinate formations of the revised herbicide policy as





Policy for the conduct

operations by all US forces

in the above references

indicated below:

of herbicide

in MR3 conveyed is modified as

All crop destruction operations will

terminated immediately.


B. Use of herbicides will be restricted to

remote, unpopulated areas or around fice

(sic) bases and US installations The

stresses and risks involved in herbicide

application are to be no greater than those

sustained by the US population and the US

environment in normal peacetime activities.

c. Effective immediately, all

will be made by either

ground-based spray.

US operations helicopter or

D. Orange continues to be suspended from use.

However, white and blue may be used provided they are carefully controlled, employed with discrimination and in with the

policies which govern the use of herbicides in the US set forth by the US Department of

Agriculture (USDA).

E. USDA Registration Numbered 6308-20 for

Phytar 560 or blue cautions: Do not

contaminate water used for domestic

consumption, or by animals, wildlife and

aquatic life, or for irrigation purposes.

Do not graze treated areas to livestock.

Keep children and pets off treated areas

until after rain or sprinkling following

treatment. Do not track from treated to

untreated areas.

F. USDA Registration Number 434-306 for Tordon 101 pgblhite (sic) cautions: Do not

contaminate water. To avoid injury to crops or other desirable plants, do not trat (sic)

or allow spray drift to fall onto inner

banks or bottom of irrigation ditches. Do

not store near food, feedstuff, fertilizer. seeds, insecticides, fungicides or other

pesticides. To avoid injury to desirable

plants, containers and sprayers used for


Tordon 101 should not be reused to contain

or apply other materials.

G. All stocks of herbicide will be carefully

controlled to prevent unauthorized use and to avoid injury to crops or other desirable


In June 1971 II Field Force Vietnam directed that chemical

c r o p destruction operations would be phased out.

In the same month COMUSMACV ordered that:

All herbicide operations by US forces, using US

assets , or involving US support were suspended

for an indefinite period effective 1 May 71.

Pending receipt of further instruction no, repeat no, herbicide operations are authorized. The

term herbicide encompasses herbicides BLUE,

WHITE, ORANGE . and similar chemical formulations known by a variety of Trade names (e.g. Phytar

560, Tordon 40, Tordon 101, Dalapon, Kenapon,

Hyvar, Telvar, Monuron, Tandex, Urox, Karmex, MG 30.)

All stocks of herbicides in hand in US units will

be consolidated and stored at division, separate brigade or equivalent level, strict

accountability will be intained, no issue of

herbicides will be made until further notice.10

Despi t e the order of 17 July 1970, the last fixed - wing

mission actually occurred on 7 January 1971. The last

helicopter mission under US control was on 31 October

1971. 11


As the previous consideration of US policy indicates, the

herbicide operations were conducted with the approva 1 of

the government of South Vietnam. Indeed, the Herbicide

Project Processing Channels suggest that the spray

missions approval process, be they fixed--wing, helicopter

or ground spray operations involved the approval of

officers of the South Vietnamese Army.

The instructions issued by the Australian Army and the

extent to which such instructions were obeyed is dealt

with later, in section 6 of this Chapter. Insofar as

involvement in the US/South Vietnamese herbicide program

was concerned, Australia came within the policy directives

referred to above and accordingly any Australian request for aerial spraying were processed in the same manner.

The 'colour-coded' herbicides were obtained by the US

Government from eleven different manufacturers. Seven

such manufacturers subsequently became defendants in a

United States class action. Issues relating to this class

action are dealt with in Chapter XI of this Report. Two of

those issues bear on the topic of exposure, namely the

level of contamination with TCDD and the rates of

application of these by the Defendants


that the US


There were



(i.e. the

military) dispersed such chemical agents at a level

greater than the stated 3 (US) gallons per acre.

Th e rna jor i ty of these herbicides were dispersed by

fi xed - wing. Hercules C- 123 aircraft under the Operation Ran c h Hand program. These planes were originally fitted

with an MC-1 spray configuration and disseminated a spray

of l-1.5 gallons of herbicide per acre. Later, the system

wa s modified to permit spraying of 3 (US) gallons per acre

in a single pass. This spray system was capable of

depositing three gallons per acre on swaths 240 feet wide

when spraying at an air speed of 130 knots at an altitude

of 150 feet. 12

In 1966 a new defoliant dispenser system, the A/A 45 Y- 1

replaced all older systems. This system permitted spraying

at the rate of 240 (US) gallons per minute and at an air

speed of 130 knots from 150 feet altitude produced a swath

of 260 .±. 20 feet wide with a mean deposit of 3 (US)

gallons per acre. Spraying time was approximately 3.5 - 4

minutes and this dispensed 950 gallons of chemical on a

spray line about 8. 7 statute miles (14 km) in length. In

order to achieve predictable deposits. it was recommended

that the missions be conducted under inversion to neutral

temperature situations and in calm wind conditions. The


aircraft required a crew of pilot, co-pilot and flight

engineer. the flight engineer doubling as a console or

spray sys tern operator. Observers frequently accompanied . h b. . . . 13 a1r crews on er 1c1de m1Ss1ons.

Standard operating procedures have been summarised by

Young et al in Exhibit 906 as follows:

1. Each of the 11 different companies that

manufactured military herbicides packed them in new ICC 17C 55 - gal [US] 18 gauge steel

drums for shipment to Southeast Asia. Until 1967. lined drums were used only for

shipment of Blue. However, because of the

results of compatibility tests, lined drums were also used to ship White beginning in


2. Each herbicide drum was marked with a

three- inch color - coded band around the

center to identify the specific military

herbicide. This marking was initially a

12- inch band. but was changed to a 3--inch

band in March 1966 .

3 . Shipping time from the arrival of the

herbicide at a US port until it arrived in

South Vietnam varied from 47 to 52 days.

4. About 10 out of every 10,000 drums shipped

were received in a damaged or defective

state. This represented a damage rate of

0.1 percent. About 50 percent of these

damaged drums leaked as a result of

punctures or split seams. These were caused by improper loading and defective drums.

Forklifts operated by stevedores also caused punctures. Redrumming was accomplished at the ports.

5. About 65 percent of the herbicide was

shipped to the 20th Ordinance Storage Depot, Saigon. and 35 percent was shipped to the


Sllth Ordinance Storage Depot, Da Nang.

Under the normal hand ling procedures. drums were unloaded at Da Nang and Saigon from the

cargo vessel directly into semi-trailers and were placed in an upright position. The

trailers were driven to the various units of the 12th Air Commando Squadron (primarily at the bases of Da Nang, Phu Cat, or: Bien Hoa)

for disposition.

6. Normally the contents of the drums were

transferred into blocked F-6 trailer tanks through a suction tube without removing the full drums from the semi-trailers. Each F-6 trailer held 4,298 gal or about 78 drums of

herbicide. If blocked F-6 trailer tanks

could not accommodate the total inventory. the drums were stacked in pyramidal style

until needed. 7. The transfer of the herbicides from the

steel drums to storage tanks or

aircraft tanks required some precautionary measures. Personnel charged with the

supervisory responsibilities of handling the herbicides were indoctrinated in appropriate safety precautions including the use of

gloves and face shields as needed.

Personnel handling the chemicals were

encouraged to "take norma 1 sanitary

precautions and to maintain personal

cleanliness and to avoid skin and eye

contact with the mateiral. Contaminated

clothing were to be washed before re-use.

Spillage on the skin or in the eyes was to

be rinsed copiously with clear water.

8. When the herbicide was pumped from the drums

into the F-6 trailers about 0. 5 to l. 5 gal

remained in the drum. Hence the drum was

placed on a drain rack and the "drippings"

were collected from many drums in a pan- type receptacle and used for spraying base

perimeter areas.

9. Empty drums were given to the military

forces (Vietnam, US and Free World Military Assistance Forces) for use as barriers in

defensive positions. The drums were filled with sand or concrete and used in the


of in foundations

for runways and barbed wire perimeters.

10. areas contaminated by spillage of

the herbicides flushed with diesel fuel

with diversion of the drainage into

settling basins or pits for incorporation

into the soil.

11. The F - 6 trailers were tied to plumbing and

pumps so that the herbicide could be

delivered to the aircraft without moving the trailers. 12. As previously noted, Orange was insoluble in

water. while Blue and White were not . When

Orange was mixed with either Blue or White.

a gummy substance formed. The F-6 trailers

were therefore color-coded to correspond to the drum color - codes and used exclusively

for the to which the code applied.

13. The aircraft spray tanks , positioned in the

centre of the airplane, and the spray system

was purged before the type of herbicide

carried was changed. Particular attention had to be given to sequences involving Blue

and White. A mixture of these two

resulted in the formation of a

precipitate consisting of the sodium salt of 2,4-D.

14. Most of the personnel involved in the actual

handling of the herbicide drums were

Vietnamese. However, a USAF flight mechan i c or crew chief was responsible for ensuring

that the aircraft was properly loaded and

the spray system functional. A flight

mechanic was a l so the console operator for

the spray unit. The pi lot and co-pi lot were

officers while the flight mechanics and crew chiefs were usually enlisted personnel.

15. For record keeping purposes a herbicide

"mission" consisted of several if

only one aircraft was used the operation was a sortie. All missions [with the

same target area) a project.

IV- 19

16. Aircraft takeoffo were normally before

sunrise. From a tactical point of view, the

arrival of the aircraft at the target area

just prior to sunrise permitted the aircraft to approach the target from the direction of the rising sun. This afforded some degree

of protection from enemy ground fire. From

the standpoint of herbicidal action,

application by aerial spray was most

effective if accomplished prior to 0800

hours while inversion conditions existed. in the absence of precipitation, and while the wind was calm or not exceeding a velocity of

8 knots. This insured the proper settling

of the spray on the target area.

17. Within the aircraft, it was not uncommon to

have herbicide leakage from around the

numerous hose connections joining the spray tank and pumps with the wing and aft spray

booms. In hot weather, the odor of

herbicide within the aircraft was decidedly noticeable. Periodically, the spray tank

with console was removed (especially with

the portable A/A 45Y-l system) and the

interior flushed with surfacant or with soap and water. Because of the corrosive nature

of some herbicides, it was necessary for the

aircraft to also be repainted periodically . 18. In the 1966 through 1968 period, more than

one sortie per day was often common. For

example, during the first six months of

1968, the 24 C-123 aircraft assigned to

RANCH HAND averaged approximately 39 sorties per day. 14

Following the decision to suspend herbicide operations the

qu e stion of disposal arose. This is dealt with more fully

in section 7 of this chapter. 15

In considering the issue of exposure it is important to

consider not just the quantities of these herbicides which

were dispersed during the course of the Vietnam conflict

IV- 20

but also to link such quantities to time, locations and

the proximity of Australian troops.

Year No. of

Personnel a

1962 50

1963 87

1964 178

1965 1 875

1966 5 115

1967 8 152

1968 8 580

1969 8 162

1970 6 921

1971 5 120

1972 137

1973 .0





:_I.'ABLE 5

Agent Orangeb

353 350

520 890 105 569

168 377

190 950 547 578



Agent White

514 375

319 335

075 998

997 888

208 173

12 175

a source = Table 1, page 10, Exibit 1448

b all figures in US gallons:

Agent Blue

15 800

355 225

271 015

227 793

134 803

2 330

1 US gallon = 0.83 imperial gallons = 3.785 litres

Table 5 subdivides the usage of herbicides Orange, White

and Blue (as contained ] n Table III B-2 on p III-17 of

Exhibit 903) by calendar year and also indicates the total

number of Australian Army and Air Force personnel who

commenced their first tour of service in Vietnam in that

year, as contained in Exhibit 1886. The resulting

comparison is thus indicative rather than definitive.


However, these figures do not make any allowance for the

l ocation of the herbicide dispersal. The breakdown of the

number of fixed - wing aircraft missions by province within

South Vietnam is shown in Table 6.


Ye ar Binh 'I'uy Long Khanh Bien Hoa Phuoc Tuy

1965 0 0 2 10

1966 19 15 16 28

1967 42 8 34 71

1968 6 34 42 54


1969 0 1 38 0

1970 0 0 8 0

Total 67 58 140 163

a No Ranch Hand missions recorded after 30 June 1968.

S ource : Table 9, page 40, Exhibit 1448

Gia Dinh








Co mbining the personnel figures with the missions in Phuoc

Tuy prov i nce and the amount of herbicide dispersed by

f ixed - wing aircraft missions in that province by year,

gives t he results shown in Table 7.



1962 1963 1964 1965

1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971

1972 1973




No. of

Personnel a

50 87 178

1 875

5 115

8 152

8 580

8 162

6 921

5 120

137 0

No. of


10 28 71 54

from Table 5 herein in '000 gallons (US)

Agent Orangeb

24 54 141 64

Agent Whiteb

38 151

Agent Blueb


Source: Table 9, page 40 and Table 10, page 41, Exhibit


Further analysis of the records of Australian personnel

serving in Vietnam reveals the following potential for

exposure from fixed-wing aircraft flying herbicide




Battalion Deployment Total days of Spraying

Agent Agent Agent

Orange White Blue

SR AR 1. 4.66 - 5. 7.67 36 3 4

6R AR 1. 4 . 66 - 5. 7.67 36 3 4

2 RAR 2. 3.67 - 18. 6 . 68 38 30 4

7R AR 2. 3.67 -- 24. 4.68 34 21 0

3R AR 12.12.67 - 5.12.68 13 28 0

lRAR 19. 1. 68 - 28. 2.69 13 25 0

4RAH 29. 1. 68 - 30. 5.69 12 24 0

9RAR 5.11.68 - 5.12.69 0 0 0

5R AR 28.11.69 -- 5. 3.70 0 0 0

6RAR 7. 5.69 - 28. 5.70 0 0 0

8R AR 18.11.69 - 12. 11.70 0 0 0

7R AR lO. 2.70 - 10. 3.71 0 0 0

2R AR 28. 4.70 - 4. 6.71 0 0 0

3R AR 12. 2.71 - 19.10.71 0 0 0

4RAR 1. 5.71 - 12. 5. 72 0 0 0

Source: Table 11. page 42, Exhibit 1448.

The details shown in Table 8 do not consider the proximity

of Australian personnel to these herbicide flight

missions. Table 9 represents a collection of occasions

when Australian personneL whilst in Phuoc Tuy province,

were within 4km of a mission, obtained from Table 12, page

43, Exhibit 1448.



26 . 1.67

31.10.67 13. 4.68

30. 4.68

20. 6.68

25. 6.68

26. 6.69a 22. 8.69a



Orange White White* White* White

Orange White Orange*


(in km)

1-4 1-4

within 1 within 1 1-4 1-4

1 - 4

direct exposure

a Although the flights concerned are shown as being

within Bien Hoa province, as Australian troops were

operating close to the border of Phuoc Tuy and Bien

Hoa provinces. they are included.

Table 10 discloses the corresponding details in respect of

Hoa province, obtained from Table 13, page 44,

Exhibit 1248.



Da t e Agent Proximity

(in km)

18. 6.68 Blue 1 - 4

4. 7.68 Orange 1-4

7. 7 . 68 White 1-4

20 . 5 . 69 Orange 1-4

30. 8.69 Orange 1-4

31. 8 . 69 Orange 1-4

l. 9.69 Orange

20. 9.69 Orange 1-4

Clearly, if the criterion was altered to include

prox i mities greater than 4 kilometres then the number of

instances would be greater. On t he other hand, if the

c riterion of 'within l kilometre' is adopted, then only

t hree incidents (marked '*' in Table 9) would arise: two

i nvolving Agent White and one Agent Orange.

Allied with the concept of proximity is the question of

dose, i.e. it is necessary to consider not only "how

close" but also "how much". For example, a member of the

Australian forces might be in close proximity to a

fixed - wing herbicide fl i ght mission yet, because of his

duties at that particular time on that particular day, be

unlike l y to receive any significant "dose".


It is most important to also consider what amounts to a

significant dose, i.e a dose which might give rise to

resulting health affects. This question is considered

later in this chapter in section 2 - Exposure Models.

Concern as to the use of these herbicides has been

directed not only to the 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T ingredients but also to the contaminants of manufacture. TCDD, to give it

the shortest possible description, has been the subject of

a great number of allegations. The extent to which

Australian personnel were exposed to TCDD in Vietnam

involves considerations similar to those mentioned above

in respect of the herbicides in general. An additional

factor is the extent to which TCDD was present in the

herbicides. Other sections in this Report deal with the

question of the extenL to which TCDD is toxic (i.e.

poisonous). A proper understanding requires at least a

brief consideration of what TCDD is and the level of its

presence in the chemical agents used in the course of the

Vietnam conflict.

Chloro-dibenzo-para- dioxin molecules consist of two

benzene rings linked by two adjacent oxygen atoms and have

from one to eight chlorine atoms attached. Thus, in

theory. 75 different kinds are possible. To date. only


about · 10 such compounds have been synthesised and only a

s mall number have been found to exist naturally. The most

common variant is para-

Q.ioxin: the prefix tetra indicating the presence of four

chlor i ne atoms and the numbers denoting their location in

t he molecule. This name is understandably abbreviated to

TCDD or. given that this is the most commonly discussed

variant. dioxin. TCDD arises during the chemical process,

known as hydrolysis. which produces 2. 4. 5-trichlorophenol

from tetrachlorobenzene, as shown diagrammatically in

F'igure 1 .




2,4- D

2,4 - D BUTYL





2,4,5 - T

2,4,5 - T BUTYL


TETRA - 2,4,5-




This chemical reaction is carried out under alkaline

conditions, at high temperatures and under high pressure. Such conditions, favourable to the formation of TCDD. need

to be carefully controlled in order to minimise the level

of TCDD in 2. 4. 5 - T. The production of 2. 4-dichlorophenol

in the course of producing 2,4-D does not involve such

conditions, neither does the production of picloram or

cacodylic acid. Accordingly. TCDD levels are only

relevant to a consideration of Agents Orange (and Orange I I). Pu.rple. Pink and Green but not to Agents White and



Source of


Johnston Island inventory. 1972

Johnston Island inventory, 1974

Gulfport inventory, 1972

Gulfport inventory, 1975

Eglin AFB Archived Sample

Eglin AFB inventory, 1972

a: in parts

b: 4 of the

Source: Table 6,


Number of SamQles TCDD Concentration

Orange Purple Rangea Mean a

200 (4)b 0.05-47.0 l. 91

10 0.07-5.3 l. 68

42 0.05-13.3 l. 77

238 0.02-15.0 2.11

l 45.00

2 0.04

per mi 11 ion {ppm) 200 samples may have been Agent Purple page I-23, Exhibit 906.

Table 11 sets out the available data on the concentration

of TCDD in samples of Agent Orange and Agent Purple. The

overall average of these samples (i.e. the weighted mean

concentration) is 1.98 parts per million {ppm).

Tlle herbicide sampled at Johnston Island was procured no

earlier than February, 1964 whereas that at Gulfport was probably procured in 1968 or 1969. 16 This is consistent

with the suggestion that TCDD concentration levels were

more closely monitored later in the period of supply.


However. a closer examination of the results reveals that

only 4 of the 200 samples from Johnston Island exceeded

that of the

samples were

noted that

Gulfport inventory: the


17, 22, 23 and 47 ppm .

results of those

It should also be

the average concentrations do not differ

markedly between Johnston Island stocks and those held at

Gulfport although the maximum levels of TCDD do: 47 and 15


If the four drums indicated in Table 11 above, (see

footnote b thereto) were in fact Agent Orange then the

average or mean concentration of TCDD in Agent Purple

would have been 32 . 8 ppm. This mean value may not

represent the actual concentration of TCDD in the Agent

Purple used in South Vietnam between 1962 and 1964; rather

it represents the best estimate which is possible from the available data. On the assumption that this concentration was likewise reflected in Agents Pink and. Green then the

mean concentration of TCDD in those herbicides would have

been 65.6 ppm since they contain twice the amount of


It is important to note that usage of Agents Purple, Pink


and Green was confined to less that 90.000 acres from


1962 to 1964, 18 i.e. at a time before any substantial

number of Australian personnel were serving in South

Vietnam (as the first column of Table 5 above indicates).

Furthermore, these three herbicides contained

approximately 40% of the estimated TCDD dispersed in South


As Tables 9 and 10 indicate, the potential for exposure of

Australian personnel to TCDD from fixed-wing aircraft

carrying out herbicide missions is limited to one occasion

if a criterion of within one kilometre is adopted.

About 86% of all herbicide operations appear to have been 0

d b f" d . 0 f 19 c arr1e out y 1xe -w1ng a1rcra t.

The active ingredients of these 1 colour-coded 1 herbicides

are as follows:

* 2,4-D (Agents Orange, White, Pink, Purple and


* 2,4,5 - T (Agents Orange, Pink, Purple and Green)

* Picloram (Agent White)

* Cacodylic acid (Agent Blue).


These four chemicals, together with the 2,4,5 - T

contaminant; TCDD, have thus been the focus of the

Commission's investigations in respect of the

'colour-coded' herbicides.

1.2 Other Herbicides

Dinoxil. Trinoxil. Monuron, Diuron, Dalapon and Tandex

(trade names) were also used in Vietnam. However. these

were used by US forces: there was no Australian use of

these chemicals. Furthermore, only small quantities of

these chemicals were in Vietnam between 1962 and 1964


. 20

or test1ng purposes.

Additionally, the Holt/Lugg test program (further

considered in section 4.4 of this chapter) involved the

use of chemicals with the following trade names (common

names): Weedazole (Amitrole), Primatol A (Atrazine),

Chlorflurazole S (Chlorflurazole), Le-pon (Dalapon). and

Afalon (Linuron).

Other herbicides which were used by Australian personnel



Trade Name

Tordon SO-D

Polybor chlorate Creosote HYVAR GRAMOXONE REG LONE DMSO DEL 21

Tor don

Active Ingredient(s)

Picloram (200 grams/litre or 80%) 2,4 - D (50 grams/litre or 20%)

Borate and chlorate

Bromacil Paraquat Diquat

Paraquat, diquat and DMSO

Department of Defence records disclose that 360 gallons

(1637 litres) of Tordon SO-D were despatched from

Australia to Vietnam in the period November- December,

1968. 21 The Army Report (Exhibit 892) endeavoured to

trace the procurement process through the various stages.

Results of this investigation of records held in respect

of Tordon SO-D are set out in Table 12.


Records of -Forecast usage Procurement requests Procurement



Gallons (Imp)

352 315 675 (315 in Nov '67;

360 in Nov '68)

360 (in Nov ' 68)

Source: Annexures I to N to Book III, Chapter 1, Exhibit 892

The Pesticides Report suggests that there was a purchase

of '13 x 45 gallon drums of picloram/2,4-D from Dow

Chemicals, 22 Sydney'. The Commission notes that if this

figure were 15 drums then the gallonage involved would be 675. Holdings of Tordon 50-D (in Australia) were given as

360 gallons (360 = 8 x 45) in March, 1972. 23

There are no records indicating quantities issued and

consumed in Vietnam. However. it was decided to return

surplus stocks to Australia 24 and, since no Tordon 50-D

was so returned, it would appear that a maximum of 360

gallons was used in Vietnam between December, 1968 and

January. 1971. The fact that 1 ATF requested 360 gallons

of Tordon 50-D in December. 197023 suggests that the

Tordon 50-D issued two years earlier had been

substantially, if not fully, consumed.


G A Lugg's report (Exhibit 1061) contains a table of the

chemicals used in Operation ORION, the latter of the

Holt/Lugg trials. which commenced in December. 1967.

(considered more fully in section 4.4 of this chapter).

This table, reproduced as Table 2 on page 13 of the Senate

Report (Exhibit 1448) does not include Tordon 50 - D.

However. the May 1968 report of Major E S Holt (Exhibit

99) discloses that 1 gallon of Tordon 50-D was added to

300 gallons of water. together with four other chemicals.

in order to test a knockdown spray mixture. Table 'A' of

his report suggested that such a mixture was applicable to

'Dense shrubs and grasses to 6ft high' with a suggested

time of application as 'Pre or post wet'. Significantly,

the remarks column of that Table suggests 'Delete TORDON

in vicinity of rubber trees'.

The tenor of Major Holt's report suggests Tordon usage for

control of vegetation around base camp perimeters. The

Commission is satisfied that the best conclusion available

to it is that a limited quantity of Tordon SO-D was used

in the Holt/Lugg trials and that a maximum of 360 gallons

was used for vegetation control around Australian bases

between December 1968 and January 1971. Such a conclusion

as to the purpose of usage is supported by the Pesticides

Report (Exhibit 1288):


The vegetation control program around Australian base areas and other defended locations was

repeated on a seasonal basis between April and

November to cope with vegetation growth following the monsoon season each year until 1971. The

annual usage for this program was in the order

of: ... 350 gallons of

The quant ity shipped to Vietnam would appear to have been

sufficient for but one year's spraying program . However, if usage of Tordon 50- D commenced following the Holt/Lugg trials, then only two spray seasons (namely April to

November 1969 and 1970) would be involved. There do not

appear to be any record s suggesting usage of a greater

quantity than that suggested by Department of Defence


The toxicity of Tordon 50- D and its active ingredients,

picloram and 2,4-D are considered elsewhere in this

Report. It is sufficient for present purposes to indicate

the quantity, location and purpose of usage in order to

enable some assessment of likely exposure.

It is worth noting that stocks of Tordon 50- D were

. . . . 26 f .

suppl1ed 1n br1ght yellow conta1ners as some con us1on

with Agent Orange containers might reasonably be expected.


Borate Chlorate

Borate Chlorate was the trade name for a mixture of the

borate and chlorate salts of alkaline metals. It

c omprised. as the name suggests, borate (sodium borate)

a nd chlorate (sodium chlorate). At the time of

procurement, from OSTA Chemicals in Sydney, it was the

standard Army weedki ller. Records held by the Department o f Defence in respect of Borate Chlorate are summarised in

Table 13.

Records of -Forecast usage Procurement requests Procurement




7 056

16 744 (3360 in Oct '66;

4480 in Mar '67;

8904 in Jul '67)

6 85o+ (?qty in Sep-Dec '66)

4350 in Apr '67;

2500 in Sep '67)

Source: 892. Annexures I to N to Book I I I. Chapter 1. Exhibit

Records of holdings are as follows: in Vietnam. 4. 000 lbs

as at August, 1967 but none by January. 1971 and in

Australia, 9,000 lbs as at August, 1967 and 8,904 lbs as

at March 1972. 27 Combining this information with Table

13 suggests that:


(i) all of the initial. unquantified shipment plus a

further 350 lbs had been consumed in Vietnam by

January, 1971; and

Cii) the 8,904 lbs procured in July 1967 was not

forwarded as 8,904 lbs remained in Australia as

at March 1972. Further. that 96 lbs were either

forwarded to Vietnam between August 1967 and

March 1972 or removed from stores for use in


Prior to April 1967 borate chlorate had been used around

the base area at Nui Dat to control vegetation which might

have provided cover to the enemy. By this time trials

were being conducted in order to determine which

defoliant(s) should be used for perimeter vegetation


control. As Lugg's report indicates, Polybor Chlorate

proved to be either too selective in its action or

required a rate of more than 50 kg/hectare (44 lbs/acre)

. d f . 29 1n or er to be e fect1ve. Furthermore, as the request

for pumps (indicated below) demonstrates, the equipment

initially used proved unsuitable for spraying large

30 areas.


The authors of the Army Report (Exhibit 892) described the

Polybor Chlorate program as follows:

62. A weed control team was established in the 1 ATF

area to carry out defoliation using Polybor Chlorate. Typical composition of the weed control team was:

1 x Junior NCO (CPL or LCPL)

1 x Driver

4 x Privates

(All men were drawn from local units.)

1 x 1/4 ton vehicle

3 x knapsack sprays Gloves and goggles

Team members were to report to

ATF Regimental Aid Post each

period at 0800 hours.

the Hygiene Section l day for the rostered

63. With the onset of the wet season in May 1967

there was an increase in the number of units

requesting the assistance of the weed control team .

64. As well as perimeter defences at Nui Dat, an area

of 4 - 5 million square metres, 1 ATF also maintained a

base at the HORSESHOE feature [so named because of the horseshoe shape of the contours on a map of the

feature] immediately north of Dat Do. The perimeter

of this base (0. 35 million square metres) also

required defoliation from time to time ....

66. The use of Polybor Chlorate as a defoliant

resulted in high workload for defoliation teams. 32

lbs of Polybor Chlorate in solution covered only 400

square feet in the desired rate of application. To

cope with the work involved l ATF sought the use of

pumps. On 13 June 1967 1 ATF requested the supply of

two such pumps and on 17 June 1967 HQ AFV requested a

third . These were to be employed as follows:

a . one for 1 ATF,

b. one for the HORESHOE feature. and


c. one for the repair and maintenance pool [this was

an equipment reserved held to replace items which broke down] .

These items were to be supplied from US Army sources

but it is not known whether delivery was effected or


67. On 24 August 1967 P'ORS prepared

perimeter wire defoliation problem. significant because it describes

defoliant agents used to that time.3l

In respect of Polybor Chlorate it stated:

a review of the

This review is

the chemical

18 lb/44 gal, 1 gal/ sq yd, rain washes it away; no

longer used.32

The report concluded that this defoliation effort resulted

in four members committed, virtually full-time, from May

to November each year for the defoliation at over 13 km of

perimeter wire at Nui Dat alone. 33 It is significant to

note that Polybor Chlorate was not one of the herbicides

included in the Holt/Lugg December, 1967/January, 1968 34 test program.

Hence the usage pattern of this chemical suggests a

relatively high exposure for applicators (few in number) with a much lower exposure to be expected for personnel

stationed at the base and negligible exposure likely in

respect of personnel on patrol.


The toxicity of borate-chlorate is further considered

later in this Report.

Distillate - Creosote

It appears that, prior to 24 August, 1967 a mixture of

creosote with distillate (i.e. diesoline) was used for

base perimeter defoliation. The review of such operations

on that date by FORS (Field Operational Research Section)

stated, inter alia:

Chemicals tried ...

b . Distillate + 5\ creosote worked well,

except that tar precipitated from creosote, clogging nozzles. No longer used. c. Distillate+ 2\ creosote presently used,

works extremely well with minimum clogging of nozzles. Doesn't wash away even if rain

falls immediately after application. Fairly safe to use, as slight irritation of skin or

throat shows [operator] when to stop.

Coverage of [44 gallons is approximately] 50 yards of fence ... 41

This review concluded that the short-term solution was to

use distillate + 2\ creosote with existing equipment.

Similar problems to those experienced in respect of

borate-chlorate appear to have led to the abandonment of

creosote for base perimeter defoliation, i.e. either too

selective in its operation or requiring too high an

application rate and, as the FORS review indicated. not


suited to the equipment being 42 used. It would thus

appear: that. although the quantities used cannot be

determined, the usage of creosote was confined to 1966 and 1967.

Hyvar X (Bromaci1)

Department of Defence records suggest that a total of

16,500 lbs (7,500 kg) of the soil sterilant HYVAR X- WS was

sent to Vietnam, as Table 14 indicates.

Records of -Forecast usage Procurement requests Procurement Despatch


25 000

14 520

23 500

16 500 ( 500 lbs in Jul '68

7000 in Nov- Dec '67;

and 9000 in May '69)

a 2.2 lbs = 1 kg or 1 lb = 0.455 kgs

Source: Annexur:es I to N to Book I I I, Chapter 1, Exhibit


As 2,800 lbs (1273 kg) were returned from Vietnam to

Australia in January. 197135 it would appear that usage

of HYVAR in Vietnam between July. 1968 and January, 1971

was not more than 13,700 lbs {6,227 kg). The Pesticides

Report suggests that 114 x 50 1b drums of bromacil were


o bta i ned from SHELL chemicals, Sydney and 220 x 50 lb

drums from Amalgamated Chemicals, Bankstown. 36

It i s clear that HYVAR was included in the December

1967/January 1968 Holt/Lugg spray trials. The report of

Ma j or Holt dated May 1968 (Exhibit 99) indicates that:

[It was] calculated by Mr Lugg that 15 lb of the

soil sterilant Hyvar - X- WS would be needed per 300 gal of water in a sterilisation spraying

operation for a sterilant effect lasting one

year. As a safety factor the quantity was

increased to 20 lbs . J7

Ta ble A of that report suggests that vegetation should be

m i.n i mal and the suggested time of application as pre-wet


seas on. Appendix 1 to Annexure A of

i ndicated both the results and recommendations:


the report

1. Although about 5 acres had been treated with

HYVAR-X - WS the major task of sterilization remains. As no rain fell during the period

Dec 67-Jan 68 the applied sterilant remained on the surface of the ground and had no

apparent effect on regrowth. Aerial

spraying calibration trials indicated that a satisfactory spread of HYVAR could be

achieved using the spray equipment developed by No. 9 Sqn RAAF.

2. Most of 1 ATF perimeter wire can be aerially

sprayed with HYVAR in mid-Apr i 1. prior to

the wet season, at a rate of 1 lb . HYVAR per

gallon of water. This should be premixed in

the spray truck tank and pumped from the

truck tank into the helicopter tank .

Priority refilling of the t ruck tank must be


established at the water point to ensure

that the helicopter hours are not wasted.

3. Standard operating procedures have been

developed by No. 9 Sqn RAAF for spraying

sterilant on open, unmined, areas. 4. In areas where air spraying is inpractical

(sic). either due to the canopy of trees or

inaccessibility to the area, the sterilant

will have to be hand sprayed. This

operation will be time consuming, especially where the complexity of the wire further

hinders accessibility. The mixture to be

applied is 20 lb HYVAR per 300 gallons of

water ....

8. Depending on t he effectiveness of the

sterilant application it may be possible to control wet season regrowth with a further

application of sterilant in Oct 68. Some

areas may be missed in the initial sterilant

spraying in Apr 68 and may require the full

treatment of knockdown and sterilant

spraying in Oct 68.39

An annua 1 usage of 9, 000 lbs of bromaci 1 is suggested in

the Pesticides Report as being part of the vegetation

control program around the Australian base areas

undertaken annually between April and November until

1971. 40 The pattern of the despatches, as shown in

Table 14, do not disclose a sufficient quantity to enable

such a program to be carried out.

However, apart from usage in the Holt/Lugg trials. it

would appear that usage of HYVAR X-WS was confined to the

period from April to November in 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1971

and that it was used to sterilise soil around the


Australian bases. It would also appear to have been

applied both by hand spraying and by

available figures suggest usage of not

lbs during this period.

helicopter. The more than 16, 500

Insofar as the exposure of Australian personnel is

concerned it would appear that the position is similar to

that in respect of Polybar Chlorate except that allowance

should be made for the inclusion of applicators involved

in helicopter spraying.

As bromaci l is water soluble and also a

compound which can lead into ground water it

that some bromacil entered the wells used

persistent is possible as a water

supply by lATF. Exposure via water is considered later in

section 5.3 of this Chapter.

Paraquat (Gramoxone)

Gramoxone, having as its active ingredient paraquat (40%),

was used in Vietnam although it would appear that only a

small quantity was involved. Department of Defence

records reveal that 45 (Imperial) gallons were procured

and despatched to Vietnam in December 1967, 36 gallons

were returned (see Section 7.2).


Diguat (Reqlone)

The records in respect of Reglone, the active ingredient

of which was diquat (40\). are not as clear. Contract

acceptance and purchase orders from the Department of

Supply suggests a total purchase of 6,345 gallons as








Date Order No

6 Dec 1967 Cl05833

1 Oct 1968 Nl44272

4 Nov 1968 Nl44374

12 May 1969 Nl45151


Source: Appendix 1. p 22, Exhibit 969


Quantity (Imp Galls)

13 X 45

24 X 45

16 X 45

67 X 45

141 X 45

1 530

1 080


3 015

6 345


Records of Imp Galls

Forecast usage 2 640

Procurement requests 1 530

P rocurement 6 345

Despatch 4 365 (1 350 in Nov- Dec ' 68

and 3 015 in Feb '70)

So urce: Annexures I to N to Book III, Chapter 1. Exhibit 892.

De p a r t ment of Defence records in respect of Reglone are

eat out in Table 16.



t h e Army Report notes, 2,655 gallons of unspecified

c hemicals were despatched to South Vietnam in November

19 67 for Operation ORION . These chemicals almost

ce r t ainly included Reglone. There was a request from

V i e tnam in November. 1967 for 1 530


gallons and

planned quantities for purchase for the Holt/Lugg trials

i ncluded 1.530 gallons being 7 x 45 gallon containers for

immediate despatch and 27 containers for later



despatch. Clearly. the total amount of Reglone could

not exceed 2,655 gallons. It is unlikely that it exceeded

l. 980 gallons (calculated as the difference between the

purchases of 6, 345 gallons and the documented despatches

of 4.365 gallons).

Having regard to the 2,115 gallons returned from South

Vietnam by sea in February 1972. 44 the total amount of

used in South Vietnam would appear to be somewhere

between 2,250 gallons (i.e. 4,365 gallons from specific

despatch records less 2,115 gallons returned) and 4,230

gallons (6,345 gallons purchased less 2,115 gallons

returned). The Commission is satisfied that the best

available conclusion is that 1,530 gallons of Reglone was included in the November 1967 despatch and. accordingly.

the total quantity qf Reglone consumed in South Vietnam

was 3,780 gallons subject only to the small quantity

contained in the DEL 21 mixture dealt with later in this

section .

In February 1970 HQ lATF advised HQ ATF that it held 1,144

gallons of Reglone. sufficient for 60 spraying days, and

forecast a requirement up to August 1970 of a further

45 2. 000 gallons . In the absence of knowledge as to the

frequency of spraying days that aspect does not add much

IV- 49

although this

requirement for

communication does suggest an annual

1970 of at least 2,000 gallons. However.

the fact that stocks in February 1970 were 1,144 gallons

enables further analysis. Obviously, the stocks of 1.144

gallons pre-dated the arrival of the 3.015 gallons known

to have been despatched in February 1970 from Australia.

These two amounts total 4.159 gallons and deducting the

quantity remaining in February 1972 (i.e. 2.115 gallons)

suggests usage of 2.144 gallons of Reglone after February


Furthermore. assuming tha L the unspecified shipment late

in 1967 included 1.530 gallons of Reglone. and given that

there was a shipment of 1. 350 gallons late in 1968. then

the total quantity available for use prior to February

1970 would have been 2.880 gallons. Deducting the stock

remaining at that date (1,144 gallons) suggests usage

prior to February 1970 of 1.736 gallons. Combining the

pre - February 1970 and post-February. 1970 figures suggests

total usage of 1.736 + 2.044 3.780 gallons. Clearly.

this second analysis proceeds on the same assumptions and

accordingly the same result may be expected to arise. The

significance of this second analysis lies in the fact that

knowledge of the February 1970 level of stocks is

consistent with and in no way detracts from the previous



In all the circumstances the Commission is satisfied that

the total usage of Reglone was of the order of 3,780


A herbicide known as DEL Defoliant 21 (also termed

DEL 21 was used on 12th April 1967


in a limited trial

over some 3,000 square feet (280 sq m) at Nui Dat. 46

DEL2l was a mixture of paraquat and diquat together with

DMSO. It would appear that the quantity used was small

enough to have been supplied from Australian Science

r b . 47 ,a oratortes in bottles and, being pre-mixed, only

required dilution prior to use in Vietnam.

Diquat (i.e. Reglone) was used in December 1967 - January

1968 in the first part of the Holt/Lugg trials, code named

Operation ORION, which involved testing a number of

chemicals, each applied to a 7 square metre plot with a

strength of 20 ml herbicide diluted with water to give a

volume of l litre. (The ten products so tested are

outlined in section 4.4 of this Chapter.) By monitoring

the effects on vegetation over the ensuing five weeks,

Lugg concluded that diquat was the most rapid-acting

. . 47

herb 1c :1de. The effect of diquat was summarised in


Table 2 of his report as follows:

IV- 51

l day

4 days

2 weeks

5 wee ks


partial browning and withering

continued browning; 70\ plot death

continued browning; desiccation with 90\

plot death. Evidence of translocation

continued plot death; almost complete;

minor growth of grasses

Di qua t and paraquat were also used in the second part of

the Holt/Lugg trials. Army records suggest that

Gra moxone, Reglone and Tordon 50 - D were mixed with 88

ga llons (400 litres) of DMSO for Operation ORION in

December, 1967 49 and despatched t o Vietnam by air in

Jan ua r y. 1968. 50 The mixture. termed a 'knockdown

mi x t ure ' . was of the following proportions:

IV- 52


Chemical Mixture No 1 Mixture No 2

Reglone 3.75 3

Gramoxone 1.25 1

Tordon 50-D 1 1

Agral 0.5 0.5

DMSO 2.5 Nil

Source: Exhibit 99, p13

The application of this mixture 'commenced on Sunday 3

December 1967 and continued until Friday 8 December

1967•. 51 Three modes of application were tested: spray

guns operated from the back of a truck; a spray boom also

located on the back of a truck (each using a 300 gallon

tank) and a similar spray boom attached to a No 9 Squadron

RAAF Iriquois helicopter (using a 100 gallon


tank) .

The fact that application by helicopter was available and

had been tested suggests the possibility of use of

helicopters for defoliation of inaccessible areas of the Nui Dat perimeter.


It is clear that 9 Squadron RAAF was involved in the

Holt/Lugg 0 52 tr1als . Furthermore. it appears that the

RAAF carried out three sorties on 1 November. 1967 as part

o f Operation SANTA although the chemical used is not


known . The RAAF aerially sprayed Reglone in July 1968


as the Army Report notes:

In July, 1968, HQ 1 ATF requested the approval of

the Province Chief Phuoc Tuy to destroy crops in

a Viet Cong controlled area. The request advised that 1 ATF had the aircraft and spraying

for the task. 9 Sqn RAAF requested

particular information from 1 ATF and advised on the aircraft and methods to be used for the

task. On the same day. 1 ATF advised 9 Sqn RAAF

that clearance for the mission had been obtained and that the chemical to be used was REGLONE!.

Further, 1 ATF requested that:

'our chemical adviser accompany spray ac

[aircraft] to observe and advise' Confirmation that spraying actually took place is contained in a 1 ATF signal which states that


SPRAYED FROM A RAAr' RW [rotary wing] AC

[aircraft]. THRIVING CROPS OF GREEN CORN WERE KILLED WITHIN 24 HOURS'. Further confirmation is provided in HQ 1 ATF Intelligence Summaries for

the period which state in part '1 ATF with RAAF

assistance have carried out aerial spraying of

certain gardens. This will continue where it is

considered feasible. necessary and effective. '

Following Operation ORION a program was recommended for

e a c h wet season involving the use of Reglone (i.e. Diquat)

and Tordon 50-D (i.e. picloram and 2.4-D) being applied to

desiccate the vegetation which was then burnt off.


Subsequently Hyvar - XS (i.e. bromacil) was to be used as a

soil . . 54 ster1lant. It has

requirement of diquat was

been suggested that the annual 55 2,000 gallons. It is clear

that the records of quantities despatched do not indicate

a sufficient quantity to enable such a program to be

carried out. Accordingly, either the program so described was not carried out or additionaL unrecorded quantities

of Reglone were forwarded to South Vietnam. The former is

more likely to be the case.

Major Holt's recommendations insofar as they involved


Reglone or Gramoxone were as follows:


Spray t ype Vegetation

knockdown dense shrubs

and grasses

to 6ft high

g r as s spray grasses and



Time of


pre or post


pre or post

o r 'follow- small shrubs wet

up s pray

ce r eal spray

to 2 ft

early growing


Reglone Gramoxone

(gallons) (gallons)


1 1

1 1

The absence of any indicat i on that further quantities of

Gra mox one were involved suggests that the knockdown

mi x t ure was adopted. On ' the other hand, the

r eco mm e ndations summarised in Table 19 may explain the

seemingly deficient supply of Reglone: if the 'follow- up'

mix t ur e was used from 1969 onwards then the annual

requiremen t for Reglone would reduce by two - thirds after

IV- 56

1968. The fact that the first specified despatch of

Reg lone to South Vietnam was in November-December 1968

(Table 16) suggests that the amount used in 1968 was less

than 2. 000 gallons. Given that 2,115 gallons of Reglone

remained in Vietnam as F b 44 . . at e ruary 1972, 1t 1s

unlikely that there was a shortage of Reglone. Hence the

available information is most consistent with a usage of the 1 follow-up 1 mixture during 1969, 1970 and 1971. This

usage would appear to require an annual supply of amount

667 gallons per annum and. assuming that the initial,

unspecified shipment was 1,530 gallons. gives a total

usage of Reg lone of about 3,530 which is broadly

consistent with the amount of 3,780 gallons mentioned


55 EWPS reported to HQ AFV in September. 1971 that usage

of Reglone since December 1968 had been 95 gallons per

56 month . If this amount were used each month then the

amount so used would have been 3,135 gallons. However,

the effect of Major

program confined to

Holt's recommendations the period from April to

is a spray



and applying the monthly rate to these months only would

roughly halve this amount. In any event, the amount used

in the Holt/Lugg trials and the 1968 program would need to

be considered in addition. Hence, it is difficult to make


any reliable inference from this piece of information as

to the total quantity of Reglone used in South Vietnam.

Evidence at Formal Hearings

Having examined the various reports and documents relating

to the use of Reg lone, Gramoxone, Tordon and Hyvar, it

remains to consider how that information compares with the

evi dence of veterans which the Commission received during

i ts Exposure Hearings. The witnesses to be considered are

Messrs Nunn, Erbs and Rhodes. The following consideration

does not purport to be a comprehensive consideration of

all such evidence: much of the evidence of veterans is

more appropriately dealt with in later sections of this


Leslie Robert Nunn was attached to 1 Field Hygiene Company

during his second

January, 1970 to

tour of duty in Vietnam which was from


January 1971. He acknowledged that

Tordon was used to kill vines and trees; that Reglone was

used to achieve a quick effect as a knockdown defoliant

and that Hyva r . 59 A h was used as a ground ster11ant s sue

h i s experience reveals a consistency with Major Holt's

recommendations and thereby suggests that they were

substantially if not fully adopted.

IV- 58

John Ceci 1 Rhodes was the Task Force Hygiene Officer at

Nui Dat from April 1968 to April 1969. 60 He recalled

having used Tor don, Hyvar, and Reg lone in South

V . 61

tetnam . Mr Rhodes initially suggested that Gramoxone


was used but later conceded that he did not use

• t 62 1 • He indicated that, upon his arrival, he became

aware that '[i]n December 1967 and January 1968 a spraying

program has been done by an operations research group' and

that he 'had a couple of spots which had not been

defoliated at that stage ... They were at the end of

Luscombe Field'. 61 He further indicated that he had

spraying responsibilities at the village of Dat Do and at

the American advisers compound within the South Vietnamese

Army Training Centre at Baria.


Mr Rhodes indicated

that one area near Luscombe Field, which contained an

extensive amount of wire for the protection of aircraft

from enemy fire. was defoliated successfully by an RAAF

Iriquois helicopter applying Reglone and later Hyvar

pellets in about May 1968. 63 He also recalled the use

of helicopters to defoliate a series of food-growing

gardens in the Thua Tich area in about August 1968 and

claimed that the chemical sprayed was a mixture of Agents

Orange and Purple because he 'had no other herbicides

whatever left in the Task Force area'. 64 He identified

the purpose of this mission as crop destruction, the crops


. d '11 65 be1ng corn an m1 . et. It is clear that this witness

was referring to the operations described in the Army


Report as being conducted in the vicinity of Thua Tich

on 28 July, 1968 to which reference has already been


made. The fact that clearance was granted and

approval to return fire for fire, 68 an aspect confirmed


. d 69 by Mr Rho es' ev1. ence • suggests an absence of allied

troops within the vicinity of the area to be sprayed. It

should be noted that the chemical proposed was Reglone and

Mr Rhodes' claim that he used a combination of Agents

Orange and Purple as other herbicides were not available

confirms the earlier conclusion that there existed a

shortage of Reglone during 1968 rather than additional.

unrecorded shipments to South Vietnam.

Hence Mr Rhodes' evidence also confirms the view that

helicopters were used to defoliate inaccessible areas of

the base perimeter at Nui Dat. Insofar as his evidence

suggests a usage of Agents Orange and Purple rather than

Reglone for the defoliation of corn and millet crops on 28

July, 1968 as part of Operation SANTA FE, exposure to this

mixture would appear to be confined to those involved in

this particular mission.

IV- 60

Paul Erbs gave evidence before the Commission on Friday 10

February 1984. He served as a hygiene company corporal in

the latter part of his Vietnam service which was from

November 1969 to September 1970. 70 He gave evidence of

backpack spraying using diquat and replenishing supplies

from the back of 71 a Landrover and that he used Reglone

and Hyvar as perimeter defoliants, Reglone being the main 72 one. Mr Erbs also gave evidence of some involvement

in Operation MASSEY HARRIS which is well documented in the 73 Army Report. Mr Erbs described his occupation at the

time he gave evidence as a d . 74 me 1c. He subsequently

conceded in cross-examination that he spent only about 1t

of his time on first aid duties and the remainder as an

assistant 75 cook. This was but one instance which

demonstrated that his evidence had t o be treated with

caution and, to the extent that there were discrepancies

between his evidence and the account contained in the Army

Report as to Operation MASSEY HARRIS, the latter is to be

preferred and thus it is not necessary to deal in any

detail with his version of his involvement.

These witnesses provided substantial support for the

account contained in the various documents which have

become exhibits before the Commission.


Clearly exposure to Reglone would have been greatest for

t hos e involved in handling the chemicals: loading. mixing,

carrying, spraying or cleaning implements. Section 6 of

t his Chapter deals with the instructions given by way of

safe t y precautions and the extent to which such

precautions were observed.

It should be noted that Counsel for WAA indicated on 15

February 1984 76 that they would not 'contend that

Vi etnam veterans suffered any long te r m detrimental effect

by reason of exposure to Gramoxone or Reglone used as a

herbicide in Vietnam'. Obviously, this did not finalise

the task of the Commission to inquire into such

chemicals . However. it did reflect a concurrence as to

t he lack of evidence to support any allegations that these

two particular chemicals were causing or contributing to

adverse health effects being experienced by Vietnam

ve t erans. This concession enabled Mr McPhee QC, senior

counsel for ICI to forego further attendance at formal

hearings of the Commission. This concession bears on the

issues of Exposure and Toxicology since an adverse health

effect requires not just exposure but also a level of

exposure which is likely to produce an adverse health

effect. The latter i ssue is a question relating to the

t oxicology of the chemical in question.

IV- 62

The effect of the addition of DMSO can be gauged from

Table 3 of G A Lugg's report (Exhibit 1061), dealing with

the comparative results of adding 20ml of DMSO to a 1

litre water- diquat mixture containing 20ml diquat; 77


Spray 1 day 2 days 4 days

Diquat Partial browning Overall browning 70\ plot death

Diquat Overall Complete browning More than 90\

& DMSO browning and of plot plot death


(N.B. N.N dimethylformamide was also used with diquat to produce a similar effect to DMSO)

The addition of DMSO was successful in speeding up the

intake of the chemicals into the vegetation and the

chemical process within the plant system. However. in

like manner, it accelerated the intake of the chemicals by the operators whenever they became exposed. The health

problems experienced in this regard are dealt with more

fully in section 4. 4. of this chapter. It is sufficient


for present purposes to indicate that, because of these

health effects. the usage of DMSO was suspended and Major

Holt's report recommended that it should not be used

. . • . 78

turthar lll oparatlOOS.

1.3 Insecticides

Insecticides were used in Vietnam to control diseases

carried by mosquitoes such as malaria, dengue fever,

filariasis and Japanese encephalitis which might affect the health of allied forces. It is clear that malaria was

the principal cause for concern: the incidence of malaria

in October, 1968 among Australian troops has been reported

as being the equivalent of an annual rate of 384 cases per

1,000 79 troops. The NAS 80 Report discloses the irony

that one of the ecological consequences of Operation RANCH

HAND was the creation of additional mosquito breeding

81 grounds. A reluctance on the part of troops, when in

combat areas, to use spray or rub-on personal protection

insectides is understandable due to the smell usually

associated with such products. Outside the base areas it

would obviously be difficult to conduct more conventional

ground - based methods due to either the nature of the

terrain or the presence of hostilities.


Insecticide operations were carried out by both United

States and Australian personnel. us insecticide

operations. insofar as they may have led to the exposure

of Australian servicemen, were conducted by aircraft. The

motivation was similar:

By 1967, the total number of confirmed malaria

cases among American troops exceeded 10,000. In addition, viral encephalitis and

meningoencephalitis had become a serious problem and dengue fever was also commonly diagnosed.79

Spraying of the Nui Dat base with insecticide commenced in

1966 with the use of helicopters containing 200 gallon

tanks and capable of spraying 1.5 gallons/acre when flown

into the wind at 55 knots at an altitude of 100 feet. 82

Due to their greater capacity, fixed wing C-123 aircraft

soon replaced the helicopters. These operations involved

malathion and DDT. 83 However. policy directives dated 5

April 1967 and 10 May 1971 restricted operations to


. 84

rna at1non . The former directive suggests the approved

rate of application as half a pound per acre (i.e. 560

grams per hectare). C

. 2

ra1g has also suggested that the

Helicopter Insecticide Dispersal Apparatus Liquid (HIDAL)

spray system dispersed 560 grams per hectare. Buckingham

et al suggest that the application rate for insecticide


by C-123 aircraft was half a pound per acre.


Herbicides were dispersed in large droplet size in an

effort to reduce spray drift. the target being

ground-based vegetation. However, the insecticide

comprised minute droplets which took the appearance of a

white fog that settled slowly on the jungle canopy86

The differences in particle size are dealt with in the

following table.


Term Particle diameter

in microns ( 1. ooo microns

Fog - dry aerosols

- aerosols

Mists Sprays - fine

- coarse

Dusts - fine

- medium - coarse

0.1 10 50 100 400

45 45 175

Source: Defence Medical Services Committee, Pesticides Sub-Committee Report, 1972

to 10

to 50

to 100

to 400

or more or less

to 175

to 400


A number of aspects of the US insecticide operations are

well summarised at pages 3-139 and 1-140 of the Army

Report (Exhibit 892) as follows:


1 mm

Aerial spraying of Nui Dat 19. United States Air Force. Aerial spraying of

1 ATF · was carried out be the United States Air

Force using Cl23 aircraft from the 7th Air Force

(7AF). On 26 July 1971 a Cl23 aircraft advised

that his call sign was 15, his base was Phan Rang

and he was under MACV and 7AF orders to spray Nui


20. No Warning Prior to Spraying. On 2 August

1967 1 ATF was sprayed, and the same day lATF

advised HQ AFV that on the last three occasions

when spraying had occurred HQ 1 ATF was not


21. Regues ts for Weekly Spraying. 1 ATF made a

request to HQ AFV on 25 July 1968 that the aerial

dispersal of insecticides carried out at

infrequent intervals over Nul Dat be carried out weekly.

22. Proposed Aerial Insecticide Flights.

References have been found to a number of

proposed insecticide spraying flights to be flown over Nui Dat. However, it has not been

ascertained if these flights were flown. It is

believed that aircraft would take off on

scheduled dates, but that after they were

airborne, a decision may have been made to

complete runs in scheduled areas, change to

another area, or cancel .

23 . Proposed Flight Dates. The following

proposed insecticide flight dates scheduled for Nui Dat were located: a. 1 July 1967,

b. 2 October 1967,

c. 19 October 1967,

d . 2 9 May 19 7 1.

e. 1 July 1971,

f. 9 July 1971,

g. 17 July 1971,

h. 24 July 1981.

24. Aerial Spraying Luscombe Field - Nui Dat.

oc 161 ( Indep) Reece Fl t wrote to HQ 1 ATF on 24

May 1971 noting that 1 ATF had forecast an

increase in aerial spraying i n the 1 ATF area

during the coming wet season. He said that the


solution used in the spraying reacted with the

perspex of Sioux bubbles and porter windscreens and caused that material to become pitted. In

turn this would affect the pilot's vision and

therefore the safety of the aircraft. At

Luscombe Field. the problem had been overcome by washing the aircraft immediately after the

spraying had been completed. A minimum of one

h our's notice of intended spraying was needed as 100 gallons of water had to be positioned so

washing could commence immediately after the

spraying had been completed.

Exh i bit 1065, a copy of a memorandum addressed to the

Aus t ralian Force Surgeon in Vietnam from USMACV in

a bout mid June, 1967 dealt with the aerial dispersal

of insecticides in the following terms:

1. Reference the attached inquiry (R515 - 1-1) on

insecticide equipment. 2. US force in Vietnam are using rotary and

fixed-wing aircraft for the aerial dispersal of insecticides. The following information on dispersal equipment is provided.

a. Rota.ry wing US forces in RVN are

currently utilising 6 prototype models of

the modified AGAVENCO spray system . This

equipment is designed for attachment to and use with the UH-1B/D model helicopter and

has the capability of dispersing low-volume, high concentrate insecticides. Fully loaded the rig weighs 2000 pounds, which is the

maximum load for the helicopter. Duration

of the spray operation varies with the

necessary flight pattern and the length of

pass, but usually take from 1. 5 to 2 hours.

During application, the aircraft flies at 80 knots and 75 feet altitude, producing a

spray swath width of 200 feet. Output is

adjusted to produce 0.5 pounds malathion per acre. Rig is attached to the aircraft by


utilising standard aircraft lugs. Mounting holes align with the standardised pattern of tie-down mounts within the aircraft. The

spray boom extends 32 feet from tip to tip

and has provision for 50 nozzles. Usually

20 to 40 nozzles of the 4664 AL Diaphragm

Tee-Jet construction are utilized for the

57% malathion currently being dispersed. Additional information may be obtained from:

US Army Medical Equipment Research and Development Laboratory Flushing, New York

b. Fixed- Wing - the UC-123 aircraft, used

in the dispersal of herbicides and

defoliants is equipped with a permanently

installed spray system which can be modified for low-volume. high concentrate dispersal of insecticides. This has been done in RVN

and results have been quite good. Tank

capacity on this aircraft is 1000 gallons,

swath width is 250 feet, air speed 150 MPH,

at an elevation of 50 to 100 feet.

Additional information on this system is

also available at the research and

development laboratory cited above.

The Australian operations included both aerial and

ground-based spraying as a letter of 25 July, 1968

from the Commander of 1 ATF to HQ AFV reveals:

In addition to the ground control measures

carried out by 1 ATF, Nui Dat area receives an

aerial dispersal of insecticides at infrequent intervals. A decrease in the mosquito population is evident for some five to seven days after each


Insecticides were obtained both from United States and

Australian sources. Although no records of exact

quantities procured from us sources appear to be available

IV- 69

t here is an almost complete record of receipts and issues

of insecticides by RAASC Supply Platoon at Nui Dat. 88

Records disclose monthly figures which are also summarised

in the Army Report for the following periods:

(a) 25 December 1967 to 24 December 1968;

(b) 25 December 1968 to 24 December 1969;

(c) 25 December 1969 to 24 December 1970; and 89

(d) 25 December 1970 to 24 September 1971.

A summary of the total receipts and issues is contained in

Table 22: it should be noted that receipts prior to 25

December 1967 are not recorded with the consequence that

figures for receipts and issues will not necessarily

balance. It would appear that Lindane and Diazinon were

also ava i lable through US sources. 88

Similar data in respect of Vung Tau is not available. The

Senate Committee received a letter from the Department of

Defence dated 21 October 1982 which addressed this issue

i n the folowing terms:

Although the details contained in the table

relate only to Nui Dat and not to the whole of

the Australian Force in Vietnam, advice from Army Office is that they are indicative of the total

position and represent the greater part of the

insecticide receipts and issues in Vietnam .


Records of receipts and issues at other RAASC

units have not been found.89 TABLE 22

Commodity Unit of Total Total

Measure Receipts Issues

Aerosol Insecticide - large dispenser 12 oz 142 542 133 557

- small dispenser 6 oz 12 639 20 793

Lindane - tin 2 oz 36 816 36 132

- liquid gall (Imp) 526 380

- powder pounds 1 117 1 092

Chlordanea gall (US) l 045 2 940

Malathiona gall (US) 2 958 2 792

DDT - powder a pound 4 595 3 945

- liquid gall {Imp) 2 265 2 975

Diazinon - liquid gall (Imp) 2 672 2 571

- powder pound 2 850 2 832

Dieldrinb 475 430

Insecticide spray KDc gall (Imp) 1 320 1 415

Mite/tick repellentb 87 143 80 622

Creosoteb 3 056 3 209

Insect Repellentb - larger bottle 3 oz 131 506 123 502

- smaller bottlea 2 oz 35 079 44 776

Dapsone packets 150 tabs 2 470 300 2 360 350

Paludrine packets 1400 tabs 8 607 500 7 117 000

a specifically identified as being from US stocks b quantity not specified

c Q.own' sprays. all of which were pyrethrin based

Source: Annexure B to Chapter 2. Exhibit 892

Two Australian insecticide repellents (one for personal

application; the other for clothing) replaced .a

dual-purpose US product in November 1968. 88 Surplus


stocks of insecticides appear to have been disposed of by

either returning stocks obtained from us sources,

inclusion in the Gift Stores program or using the

c hemicals to disinfect items of stores and equipment prior

to their return to Australia: no records were found in the

compilation of the Army Report to suggest destruction or

dumping of insecticides in


instructions relating thereto . •

South Vietnam or any

Aus t ralian insecticide operations are usefully summarised

by base location in Book III. Chapter 2, Part 3 of the

Army Report (Exhibit 892) as follows:

Action at Bien Hoa

The first instructions for the prevention of

malaria were issued by 1 RAR at Bien Hoa in

1965. This covered the use of paludrine, nets.

protective clothing, repellent and other

measures. 1 RAR directed that sub- units were to

maintain a hygiene squad for this purpose and

advised on the use of residual and knock- down


In addition to anti-malarial precautions,

instructions on anti - mite precautions were issued to prevent scrub typhus. This concerned the

smearing of clothing by hand with

Dibutylphthalate. The instruction advised that this chemical was 'harmless to skin and clothes'. Action at Nui Dat

The first Malarial Control and Hygiene Squad was formed by 1 ATF under the Hygiene Officer in


1966. Its functions included supplementation of measures carried out by units.

In July 1967, the Hygiene Officer 1 ATF advised

that a firm program of malaria control had been

established at l ATF. This included aerial

spraying of the Hoa Long/Nui Dat area with

Malathion every three weeks (40 oz per acre) and

systematic fogging of the 1 ATF area with 5%

Malathion in distillate in a seven day cycle.

The report also advises that there was little

mosquito breeding in Nui Dat, but that extensive breeding still occurred in Hoa Long village


There were problems in insect control as reported by the l ATF Hygiene Officer in his next report.

The fogging equipments held by 1 ATF units were

inadequate and insufficiently robust. The supply from Australia of various insecticides was poor, there was difficulty in obtaining Diazinon,

Lindane and Chlordane from the American supply organisation, and the readily available Malathion was not considered appropriate for use in the Nui Dat area.

Despite these difficulties in 1967 the October to December 1968 report indicated that unit areas in Nui Dat could be sprayed twice weekly, and Fire

Support Bases twice daily during operations.

As a result of the unsatisfactory nature of the

issue and general use of insecticides, HQ 1 ATF

issued instructions on their application and use in December 1970. In particular, the instruction warned of the toxicity of all the residual

insecticides and limited their use to trained

RAAMC health personnel.

A further instruction was issued by HQ 1 ATF in

May 1971. This apparently concerned a new

spraying program. The same methods as used

previously were to apply. In addition there was

a possibility that aerial spraying by helicopter was to be used. That aerial spraying of the 1

ATF base had been an ongoing occurrence is

evidenced by the SMO 1 ATF in May 1971. He also

notes that the RAAF 'have sprayed 1 ALSG for

about 2 years' using equipment of their own

design. As a result of his discussions with the


20th Preventative Medicine Unit (US), the SMO

concluded that helicopter spraying of

insecticides in the 1 ATF area would be

advantageous. The required technique was the

high concentration/low volume technique, not high volume/low concentration technique which had been used by the RAAF at 1 ALSG. A frequency of

spraying of once each two weeks was recommended.

Procurement action was then set in train, one

document of this transaction referring to the

'machine in current use'. This suggests that a

US helicopter was being used in the interim.

La t er the 20 Preventative Medicine Company were not able to arrange an aircraft but hired or

loaned equipment was used on RAAF helicopters

during this period .

Action at Vung Tau

There is evidence on the files that insecticide

operations in Vung Tau closely paralleled those at Nui Dat. In addition to regular aerial

spraying by the RAAF suggested by the SMs 1 ATF.

a pest control team was formed in the 1 ALSG area

i n 1968. This team was responsible for fogging.

spraying and baiting operations under the control of the Staff Captain 'Q' HQ 1 ALSG. In addition

to this team, Pacific Architects and Engineers

were conducting regular spraying of the 1 ALSG

area under contract.91

Ho wever. it is also necessary to consider the Australian

insecticide operations according to the means of

d i spersal: aerial and ground-based spraying.

The research team which compiled the Army Report

discovered five confirmed insecticide spray flights by 9

Squadron RAAF of 1. ALSG at Vung Tau. These flights

involved 14/15 October 1970, 14/15 January 1971, 21/22

January 1971. 16/17 April 1971 and 23/24 April 1971 which


suggest a three-monthly program involving a follow- up

flight one week after the first. Records were also

located which indicated that the RAAF sprayed 1 ALSG by

helicopter prior to May 1971 for about 2 years although

only the abovementioned dates could be confirmed. 92

The Senate Committee reported :

The earliest record of RAAF helicopter spraying is 4 September 1966, when an unidentified

anti-malarial spray was used on domestic

facilities in the Nui Dat area. It appears from

the records that similar flights continued during 1966- 67 and again from mid - 1970.93

Apart from possible exposure to insecticides whilst at

Australian bases, troops were potentially exposed to

insecticides during field operations. one recorded

incident involved C company of 5 RAR who reported on 22

March 1968 that they were i n the vicinity of a landed

helicopter that had been spraying insecticide although the report did not indicate whether that company claimed to

. . . 94

have been directly exposed to the 1nsect1c1de spray.

A consideration of official records in respect of ground

spraying of insecticides resulted in the following

inclusion in the Army Report:

IV- 75

Ground Spraying of 1 ALSG

Fogging Aparatus. A Todd Insecticide Fogging

Apparatus (TIFA) arrived at 1 ALSG about 19

December 1966 from Australia and a second TIFA

was expected to arrive during January 1967.

Spraying of 1 ALSG 18-19 June 1967. A fogging

program is recorded as having been conducted at 1 ALSG Vung Tau over the period 18-19 June 1967.

During that period, the hygiene team sprayed the

whole of 1 ALSG area with a residual insecticide

spray, in conjunction with all units using a

knockdown spray.

Formal Ground Spraying Program. On 12 July 1968 HG 1 ALSG instituted a formal ground spraying

program whereby the trailer-mounted fogging

machine would be driven through unit lines at

Vung Tau between 1800-2000 hours each Monday,

Wednesday and Friday.

Ground Spraying of 1 ATF

Responsibility. Ground fogging with a vehicle

mounted TIFA was the responsibility of Det 1 Fd

Hyg Coy, under control of the Hygiene Officer 1

ATF. Ground fogging and spraying of bunkers,

weapon pits and buildings within unit areas was a unit responsibility in those units with Hygiene personnel and appropriate equipment.

Formal Ground Spraying Program. The following

formal program was commenced in 1 ATF on 13 May

1971 and divided into the following sections.

a. Exterior Fogging. Exterior

ground fogging with residual with knockdown on request.

fogging was

each week and

b. Interior Spraying. Interior spraying

consisted of spraying of all bunkers, weapon pits and insides of buildings with residual each month.

c . Operational Spraying and Fogging.

Operational spraying and fogging was

spraying and fogging of Fire Support Bases

and Night Defence Positions.


Informal Ground Spraying Program. No recorded evidence has been found prior to 13 May 1971 of a

formal ground insect eradication program at Nul Da t. However, it would appear that an insect

eradication program had been conducted based on the following known information:

a. Request for TIFA. In August 1967, HQ 1 ATF

requested that four TIFA be located in Phouc Tuy. The request implies they were in

possession of one TIFA.

b. Spraying and Fogging. Spraying and fogging

was conducted between 1630 hours and 2000

hours, commencing 30 July 1969, by a vehicle travelling on roads throughout Nui Dat. An

itinerary is not recorded, and therefore it

is not known if this was to be done daily,

weekly or monthly.

c. Supply of Residual Insecticides. On 30

September 1970 the Hygiene Officer 1 ATF

stated that the supply of residual

insecticides to Nui Dat was constant and

adequate. 95

One incident involving the use of aerosol insecticide led

to the hospitalisation of a soldier who had become

involved with a colleague in spraying each other with the

aerosol whilst within a tent on 11 April 1968.

Consequential orders were issued in an effort to prevent a 96 recu.r renee. Otherwise, there does not appear to be

any evidence of Australian troops being hospitalised

during the period 1965 to 1972 as a result of having been

exposed to either aerial or ground

. 97

spraying. The

absence of significant short-term effects has consequences

dealt with more fully in the Health Effects sections of

this Report.


I t remains to consider the evidence of veterans in respect

o f insecticides. A large number of veterans indicated

their recollection of being in contact with insecticide e ithe r from flight missions or ground base sprayings.

Ma ny soldiers had difficulty recollecting the frequency of

s u c h operations at the base areas due to their involvement

i n field operations. Of those who were stationed at the

base s t he most common recollection as to frequency was

fo r t nightly. A number of veterans gave evidence at the

Expo s ure Hearings of the Commission. The most significant

e v i d e nce on this topic was that of Brigadier William Orril

Ro dgers (Transcript pages 260- 283 and 320- 434) who

a ppe a red to give evidence of his own experience and not on

behalf of the Army or the Department of Defence. His

sta t ement. which was written from memory with little

recourse to documents, became Exhibit 1062.

At the time he gave evidence (18 January 1984) Brigadier

Rodgers was the Director of Medical Services for the

Au stralian Army . He graduated in Medicine in 1958 in

Ade la i de and became a fellow of the Royal Australian

Co llege of Physicians. He holds a Diploma in Tropical

Me di ci ne and Health from London; he has also studied

Mi litary Psychiatry, Military Epidemiology, Military

P reventa t ive Medicine and Mili t ary Surgery all. again, in


the United Kingdom. He was commissioned in January 1956 and has seen service as a Medical Officer both in

Australia and overseas in the United Kingdom, Germany,

Papua New Guinea. Malaysia. Thailand, Singapore and

Vietnam. He saw service in Malaya in 1961-63 and visited

Vietnam i.n January/February of 1963 as part of

reconaissance operation. He served in Vietnam during

1966-67 and 1969-70. He impressed the Commission both by

his qualifications and skill and by his demonstrable


As to malaria. Brigadier Rodgers indicated:

[m]alaria [was] seasonal and epidemic. The peaks of high incidence occurred despite an antimalaria discipline of high order. Personal antimalaria discipline involves non-exposure of skin to

mosquito bites. use of insect repellents and the

taking of chemical prophylaxis ... [T]he malaria

rate dropped miraculously when Dapsone was added to the proguani 1 chemo-suppress i ve regime. The

incidence of malaria [in South Vietnam] was much higher in those troops who were in contact with

the reservoir population, i.e. the indigenes

and/or the enemy.

This is understandable when it is known that the

vector, the anopheline mosquito, has a finite

flight range. Without doubt malaria was the

greatest cause of morbidity in Vietnam from

B65 - 1969.

There were only two deaths from malaria [amongst] Australians and these occurred in 1965 in US Army hospitals. before 1 ATF was deployed to Phuoc Tuy


province. My task in 1966 was to reduce the

mosquito population in Nui Dat as much as

possible. This was done by a concerted attack on

b o th larvae (residual spraying, aerial spraying, swamp draining etc) and adults (residual

s praying, knockdown spraying avoidance of

villages etc).98

Brigadier Rodgers dealt with chemicals used in Vietnam in

t he following terms:

Mite/Insect Repellents

3 6. te Repellent. Each soldier was issued with

a plastic container of the miticide Dimethyl

Phthalate (DMP). This chemical is applied by

hand into the cloth of the •jungle green' uniform

using a standard drill so that no area of the

un i form is overlooked. DMP remains in the

uniform for up to two washes, although it

progressively and quickly washes out in the

rain. DMP repels the Trombiculid mite, which is

t he vector of scrub typhus, before this arthropod has a chance to bite the skin. It is of

significance that in Vietnam very few cases of

scrub typhus "''ere seen and no soldier died of

this disease. I cannot explain the low incidence

o f the disease in comparison with my Malayan

experience. In World War II in the South West

Pacific area, scrub typhus was a major cause of

morbidity. In some outbreaks in this

pre- antibiotic era, the mortality rate was as

high as 80%. DMP has no side effects and I have

never seen an instance of sensitivity or

i diosyncrasy to this chemical.

37. Insect Repellent. Each soldier was issued

with a plastic container of Dibutyl Phthalate

(DBP) and was instructed to use this on his skin,

mosquito veil and hat and jungle greens. whenever mosquitoes were present, particularly at night, dusk and dawn. When sweating DBP must be

re - applied as often as every half hour. It

should be understood that although the soldier is


ins true ted to wear his protective dress or use

his mosquito net during the 'mosquito biting

hours' this is not always possible as, for

instance, when in ambush position where all

senses are required. Furthermore individual

mosquito nets which fit the narrow inflatable

field mattress tend to become kicked loose very

easily and although piquets (sic) and sentries

are told to check these nets, this can be a

dangerous practice in an operational setting.

Insect repellent on the sk i n is therefore

essential and must have saved many cases of

arthropod borne illness (malaria, scrub typhus, dengue fever, encephalitis, chikungunya and

filariasis). The only disadvantage of DBP is

that it will render watch glasses opaque and will irritate eyes if applied directly to them. I

have never had a patient with sensitivity or


Insecticides 38. General. Insecticides were used extensively throughout the Australian Force in Vietnam. The insecticides used were not new or different from

those used in civilian communities all over

Australia. The methods of application were,

however. novel in that aerial dispersal from

aircraft and from various fog and mist generators were not common practice in Australia.

39. The area that needed insecticide most was the

1 ATF base camp in Nui Dat and, after the first

few months. the outlying camp at 'The

Horseshoe'. Because there were many breeding

areas be tween the village of Hoa Long and the

perimeter of 1 ATF this area and the village was

sprayed by fixed - wing aircraft. The total area

sprayed by the Cl23 aircraft was 31 square

kilometers (12 square miles).

40. Helicopter spray ope rat ions by US Army

helicopters/aircraft, and on one or two occasions by RAAF helicopter, were very effective, but time consuming and damaging to the aircraft .

41. All insecticide missions were recommended by me and authorised by the Commander 1 ATF. I

satisfied myself that where the US Army were

dispersing insecticide this was done by competent

IV- 81

practitioners. I accompanied several of the

flights. I ensured that the insecticide was

indeed reaching the intended target in the proper concentration by laying out plates.

I''urthermore. I had several biological indicators from which I gauged effectiveness. My advisors were very competent specialist preventive

medicine practitioners from the US Army 20

Preventive Medicine Unit. Before recommending aerial dispersal by either rotary or fixed-wing aircraft I investigated the effectiveness of the practice and discussed the matter with the

highest US Army medical authorities in RVN. I

was convinced that if we were to minimise the

diseases spread by arthropod vectors. then we had to spray by air. The twelve square miles and the

several inaccessible areas in Nui Dat dictated

this. 42. Aerial spraying was done in 1 ATF with

rna la thion acquired from US sources. Depending on the method of dispersal this was used in

different concentrations and with different

diluents/carr iers. Aerial spraying was directed mainly at the larvae mosquito but as it was

residual, it was [also) effective against the

common house fly, the adult mosquito, possibly

the scrub typhus mite and the destructive and

ubiquitous biting rubber ant. As a side effect

the population of frogs and snakes diminished.

Indeed, birds and small jungle fauna were rarely

seen. Malathion was also used for area fogging

and misting.

43. Other insecticides acquired from Australia were:

a. Pyrethr in which was used as an insect adult

knockdown •ainly dispersed by the fogging

and misting apparatus. Pyrethrin was also

issued to all soldiers in the form of

individual aerosol pressure packs.

b. DDT which was used as residual spray in

tents, buildings and areas accessible to

spraying personnel. Also used in powder

form against fleas in conjunction with rat

baiting programs. c.. Dieldrin used for specific purposes under

the auspices of the hygiene officer.


44. Other insecticides acquired through the US

Army system were used, but only for specific

purposes, e.g. diazinon, lindane chlordane.

45 . I [was] aware [that] all of these

insecticides with the exception of Pyrethrins, may have serious and cumulative effects and this was taken into consideration. Spraying

operations were conducted only when needed, and not routinely.

46. Although insecticides were used extensively and were dispersed in many different ways, I

never saw anyone in RVN affected either acutely

or otherwise by insecticides. To my knowledge

there were no accidents involving the dangerous concentrated insecticides. Rules for personal protection when spraying insecticides were

promulgated and were taught to all specialist

hygiene personnel as part of their routine trade

training. It should be noted that because of the

heat in RVN and particularly in Nui Dat,

insecticide dispersal operators could not

function in protective dress for any length of

time, and there was a tendency for them to divest

of clothing when not under close supervision.

47. I am of the firm opinion that had

insecticides, particularly those dispersed by aircraft. not been available in the 1 ATF area,

then the incidence of arthropod borne disease

would have been much higher. I would have

expected substantially more malaria,

encephalitis, dengue, chikungunya and other

arbovirus, filariasis, possibly scrub typhus, and fly borne disease such as dysentery and

hepatitis. It is not possible for me to quantify

this, however, I am convinced that the extensive

use of insecticides saved many lives .....

Anti Malaria Drugs

51. Antimalaria drugs were used by every soldier in Vietnam. Nominal rolls were kept and soldiers were given tablets under supervision. Where this procedure was not possible, for instance in

remote operational situations or when on leave, soldiers were given a supply of tablets for self


IV- 83

52 . The antimalarial drugs varied at different

stages of the war and in different areas. The

following drugs were used:

a. Proguanil (paludrine) 2 tablets per day.

b . Dapsone (DDS) - after 1968

c. Chloroquine and Primaquine - all servicemen

took an eradication course of these drugs

prior to return to Australia.

Many antimalar ia tablets have acute side effects but these are usually quite mild and diminish

with time. However, many soldiers suffered

severe acute blood problems with the

primaquine/chloroquine course, in some cases

necessitating reduction of the dose of

c hloroquine or even cessation of treatment. I am not aware of any long term sequela in those who

s uffered side effects.

After introduction of Dapsone in 1968 eleven

soldiers suffered a most severe blood complaint -agranulocytosis. Fortunately, none of these

soldiers died . The illness was thought at the

t ime to be due to the drug Dapsone. It was

suggested that one shipment of Dapsone had been

delayed in the unrefrigerated hold of a ship in

Panama, and the drug had deteriorated to such an

e xtent that degradation products were the cause of the problem. Fresh supplies of Dapsone

i mported from Australia resulted in no further

c ases. However:, because of these problems with

Dapsone the drug was only used when the risk of

death from malaria exceeded the risk of death

from Dapsone . 99

Les l i e Robert Nunn' s evidence a l so touched on the use of

ins ec ticides with wh i ch he became familiar when he was

att a c hed to l Hygiene Company in Vietnam from January 1970 to J anuary 1971. Prior to this Royal Commission Mr Nunn

p r o v i ded a statutory declaration asserting the use of DDT,


chlordane, dieldrin, diazinon, malathion and pyrethrins in

Vietnam during his tours of duty. 100 There is no reason

to doubt that claim. The 'Pesticides 101 Report'

suggests that the Department of Defence has not found any

records of insecticides other than rna la thion being

provided for use by Australian forces in . 102 V1etnam.

The absence of records proves little and is inconsistent

with a body of material suggesting such use.

In view of the conclusions reached on the topic of

exposure to insecticides, it is not necessary to further

deal with the evidence of Mr Nunn or other Vietnam

veterans who gave evidence on the topic of exposure to

insecticides in the course of the Exposure Hearings of the Commission. The fact that such evidence is not dealt with

in detail does not mean that it was not helpful or

reliable. Indeed, such evidence brought to light the more practical aspects of insecticide operations and, as such, made the official records 'come to life'.

In summary. it is not clear precisely what was sprayed,

where and when or to what extent. Any purported analysis

would be of spurious accbracy as to any quantitative

assessment of the exposure of any individual serviceman.

However, it i.s possible to assess 1 ik:ely exposure levels


as high, medium or low (low including ' not at all').

Further. that appropriate categories of exposure to

refl e c t the differing experience of servicemen are

a ppli c ators. base personnel and other soldiers (on field

o pe ra ti ons at various times). Having regard to the data

a vai lable. as contained in Annexures A and B to Chapter 2

of the Army Report as to the dates of receipts and issues

(summa r is ed earlier in Table 22), The Commission assesses

the li kely exposures of Australian personnel as follows :


Diet hyl toluami de Dibu t yl phthalate Aeros o l cans Malathion Diazinon Lindaue Chlo rda n e Di e l drin DDT Pyrethr i ns


Period of use

? - 1971

? - 1971

? - 1971

1 965 - 71

? - 1971

?,1969 -? - 1970

? - 1971

1965 - 71

? - 1971


Likely Leve l of Exposure Applicators Base Other

Personnel Soldiers

high high high

high high high

high high med i um

high h i gh medium

h igh medium low

high medium low

h i gh medium low

high medium low

high medium low

high medium low

It Ls i mpor t ant to realise that the use of the word 'high'

in t he above t able rela t es to the 1 ikel i hood of exposure

rat he r than to the level of exposure: for example, in

res pe ct of Malathion it is h i ghly l i kely that applicators

we r e e xposed. The level of exposure is governed by


factors such as the duration and number of tours of duty

as well as the frequency of usage of a particular

chemical. Hence, it is to be expected that for

applicators and base personnel the norm would have been

exposure to Malathion approximately weekly for twelve

months (being the usual length of a tour of duty). The

significance of exposure levels is dealt with in the next

section of this chapter.

It is to be noted that in one tour (6RAR) almost 20% had

elevated titt:es fot: Japanese B encephalitis, yet only a

handful had suffered any illness. 103 This indicates

infection but a successful immune response preventing

onset of the disease. Such instances reveal the

effectiveness of the immunisation program. In like manner the low incidence malaria confirms the effectiveness of

the preventive program and thereby provide strong

confirmation of exposure to the chemicals which comprised

that program.

The success of the program which was concerned with the

health of Australian troops cannot be overlooked. Nor was it: Brigadier Rodgers was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1967 for his services to Australian soldiers

serving in V . 104 1etnam. On the basis of his

statement. 105 his evidence given in the Exposure


Hearings of the Commission and the assistance which he

rendered during the course of the Commission's visit to

Vietnam in March 1983 such recognition was well deserved.


As already indicated, exposure or proximity to chemical

a gents used in the course of the Vietnam conflict cannot

be considered 1n isolation: it is critical to consider

dose as we ll . It is only through a combined consideration

o f whether a person was exposed to a chemical agent and,

i. f exposed, the likely extent of such exposure that a

proper assessment can be made of the likelihood of health

effects arising.

In order to provide some guidance as to the extent of the

exposure required in order to result in health effects a

number of witnesses gave evidence of what may be termed

'exposure models'. These models provide a benchmark.

based upon certain stated assumptions, against which any

particular exposure(s) might be assessed.

Dr Donald Crosby

The statement of Donald Gibson Crosby became Exhibit

llll. Dr Crosby is a toxicologist who for more than 20


years has been on the faculty of the Department of

Environmental Toxicology at the University of California.

He has also been involved in the California Agricultural

Experimental Station. His particular interest has been

the environmental degradation and fate of herbicides and

related chemicals.

He indicated that when Agent Orange is applied to foliage

in ester form by means of a droplet spray. the droplets

disappear within a few minutes. Like other organic

liquids, the droplets of the material spread so as to form

a film on the surface of the leaves which would appear

shiny. The material could wipe off on skin and clothing

if firm contact were made with it but would not fall off

the surface of the leaves.

Dr Crosby's estimate was that after 12 hours the film of

herbicide would not longer be visible and the sprayed

leaves would be indistinguishable from any other leaves.

He suggested that during that period (i.e. 12 hours) the

rna ter ial would have been largely absorbed into the leaf.

He indicated that it would probably be possible to rub a

little of the herbicide off the surface of the leaf by

firm contact with it but that only a small proportion of

the amount originally deposited at that stage could be

removed in that way.


Dr Crosby suggested that after about six hours in full

sunlight it would not be possible to detect any TCDD in

t h e material on the leaves and it would not be possible

for anyone to transfer TCDD from the leaves to their skin

or clothing by brushing past the foliage after the

expiration of that period. He further indicated that

during that period. sufficient ultra violet light energy

would have been absorbed from the sunlight in the presence

of 2. 4-D and 2. 4. 5-T esters to cause the rapid breakdown

of the TCDD.

As to exposure via soil, Dr Crosby indicated that the

t i ghtness with which TCDD binds to soil is of considerable

i mportance in that this quality makes it very difficult

and unlikely for the TCDD to come off the soil onto the

skin or clothing of persons coming into contact with the

soil. Indeed, he indicated that it is very hard to remove

TCDD from soil for analytical purposes and he noted the

views of Poiger and Schlatter that it is unlikely that

appreciable TCDD in soil would be detached from soil and

enter the body of a human or animal, even if

He ind i cated that there is a theoretical possibility of

a ttachment of TCDD to the skin and leaves of fruit and

vegetables from herbicide spray drift but that any such

surface - adhering material would rapidly photo degrade.


The no-effect (NOEL) level for a compound in a particular

species is that dose of the compound assessed by

toxicologists to produce no harmful or other effect in the species even if absorbed daily for the whole of the life

of the species.

Dr Crosby indicated that the FDA and EPA have concurred in

a NOEL of TCDD for humans of one nanogram per kilogram of

bodyweight per day which corresponds to about 80 nanograms

per day in an adult male. Dr Crosby believed that this

was a very conservative figure and that up to 10 nanograms

per kilogram per day would be safe. i.e. 800 nanograms per

day in an adult male .

If one were to eat fish contaminated to the extent found

in fish from the Saigon River by Baughman and Meselson,

then Dr Crosby's calculations suggested that it would be

necessary to eat about a kilogram a fish each day in order

that the one nanogram per kilogram (very) safe level of

i ngestion could be exceeded. Dr Crosby added that

biochemical degradation of TCDD has been demonstrated in

mammals and involves conversion. by metabolic

hydroxylation, to a much less toxic form.

In paragraph 14 of his statement, Dr Crosby indicated:


Vaporisation of Agent Orange does not involve the volatilisation of the substance as a whole but of its individual constituents separately. For

e xample. 2, 4- D butyl ester volatises faster than the butyl ester of 2, 4, 5-T. For all practical

purposes, TCDD does not volatilise at all. Thus, while the process volatilisation of Agent

Orange would involve increase in the

concentration of TCDD in the not volatile

residue, it also follows that any inhaled vapour

would contain no TCDD. On the other hand, the

odou r would provide a strong signal of the

presence of the herbicide.

Dr Crosby concluded that the combined operation of the

absor ption of Agent Orange by foliage, volatilisation and

the c ontemporaneous process of photo degradation meant

tha t in dappled sunlight or, more specifically, assuming a

level of ultra violet light in the lower areas of the

fo r e s t at 20% of that contained in full sunlight, one

wo uld expect little to be left of any constituent of Agent

Orange on fol i age to be transmitted to skin or clothing of

persons brushing against that foliage three days after

s p r ay i ng had taken place.

Dr Hermann Poiger

He rmann Poiger, the senior scientist at the Institute of

To x icology, Federal Institute of Technology and University

of Zurich, Switzerland. has undertaken work on

pha rm acokinet ics and the metabolism of TCDD since 1978.


Both on his own and with others he has undertaken research

in relation to TCDD. its metabolism, metabolites and its

toxic qualities. Some of his joint work has been with the

Director of the Institute, Dr Christian Schllater, as the

earlier reference of Dr Crosby indicates. Dr Poiger' s

statement became Exhibit 1210. In paragraph 8 of his

statement, Dr Poiger indicated a number of propositions

based upon his research:

( i) TCDD metabolises in a number of animals.

Whilst the metabolic rates differ according to species the fact that TCDD metabolises

in dogs, rats and hampsters indicates that

it is likely that it metabolises in humans

as well.

(ii) The differences in susceptibility to TCDD among different species can be explained, at least in part, by different rates in

metabolism and excretion.

(iii) The biotransformation of TCDD is a process of detoxification. The compounds which are formed by metabolism of TCDD in dogs are

phenolic derivatives and when injected into the most sensitive of species (i.e. the

male guinea pig), are at least 100 times

less toxic than TCDD itself. Tissue

storage of the TCDD metabolites is very


(iv) The excretion rate of TCDD varies according to species. When comparing the dog and the

rat in this regard it is probable that the

reason for the variation is that the dog

has higher levels of enzymes or that the

enzymes which it has act faster.

(v) TCDD uptake is highly dependent on its mode of application. The rate of absorption of


TCDD and the amount absorbed varies

according to the mode of application or

ingestion and the medium with which the

TCDD is mixed for the purposes of

application or ingestion.

The rate of dermal absorption of TCDD is

approximately one-tenth of the rate of

absorption where TCDD is administered


Further, in para 10 Dr Poiger conceded that, as at the

t ime that he gave evidence, he had not carried out

e xperiments on humans in relation to:

(a) Human uptake of TCDD as a result of dermal

contact is likely to be less than if TCDD is

ingested orally;

(b) The rate of human dermal absorption is less

than that of the rats on which my

experiments were carried out, namely rats of a hairless variety. Their skins are thin

and not as resistant a medium to penetration by TCDD as the human skin. The permeability

of the human skin varies according to the

part of the body on which it occurs. but

those portions of the human skin which are

normally exposed to the elements, e.g.

hands, upper forearms etc., are less

permeable than other portions of the human

skin, e.g. on the genital organs, and are

much less absorbent than the skins of the

rats. Thus I would expect a human to absorb

less dermally per kilogram of body weight

than would a rat of

the test variety to which a corresponding

application of TCDD was made. (c) The fact that when TCDD is adsorbed on to

soil or carbonaceous material there is a

very substantial reduction in the

bioavailability of the absorbed TCDD is

significant in relation to TCDD which is

present in the general environment. In the


general environment TCDD is adsorbed on to various materials such as soil and plant

sui: faces. Its presence on these materials

decreases the availability of TCDD both for dermal and intestinal absorption.

(d) If TCDD is ingested orally in conjunction

with fibrous material such as is present in

fruits and vegetables he would expect that

any TCDD present in the ingested substances would have a reduced bioavailability.

On the bas is of his research and the experiments which he

has conducted in relation to the effect of mixing TCDD

with soil (e.g. soil taken from the Seveso region of Italy

but free from TCDD contamination}, Dr Poiger suggested

that the longer the contact time of TCDD with soil the

less its bio-availability and that even where the period of contact was 10-15 hours a reduced bio-availability was

demonstrated. He indicated that experimental results had

shown that TCDD was substantially or almost totally

immobilised in the particles after contact of only eight


It was Dr Poiger 's opinion that the longer the period of

contact between TCDD and soil the greater will be the

binding effect achieved between the soil and TCDD. Hence,

that there would be a further reduction in

bio-availability, especially in the case of dermal

application. Dr Poiger suggested that the more organic


ma tter present in the soil the less bio-availability and

that t he presence of such organic matter in the soil would

a l so result in a higher bio-degradation of TCDD than would

be the case, for example. in sand.

An appendix to Dr Poiger's statement


dealt with

d irect spraying in open country and in jungle terrain.

These pages combine practical assumptions with

t ox icological information and, in view of their usefulness

a re set out in full:


l. A soldier in an open field with no canopy

protection; 2. Agent Orange sprayed at the rate of 3

gallons per acre; 3 . A concentration of TCDD of 2 ppm in the

Agent Orange; 4. The dress of the soldier consists of battle

trousers. army boots. long sleeved shirt

(with sleeves down) and a soft rag hat but

with his hands. face. neck and the "V" of

his chest exposed (i.e. at most 5% of his

body exposed); 5. The permeabi 1 i ty of the exposed skin of the

soldier is the same as that of the hairless

rat in the experiments. (An assumption

which is extremely conservative since the

human skin has been shown experimentally to be much less permeable for most compounds

tested to date). 6. A worst case which equates the penetration

rate of human skin by the TCDD with that of

TCDD dissolved in methanol; 7. A body weight of the soldier of 70 kgs.

The average t hus giving

body area

an exposed is approximately 1. 5 m2. area for the soldier of


not more than 750 cm2. The deposition rate of

TCDD would be 5.797 ug/m2 and if the 750 cm2

of exposed skin is assumed to consist of

horizontal surfaces on which deposition could

take place (as on the ground) a total amount of

0.435 ug of TCDD could be deposited. This amount is much more than is (really) likely since

treating the 750 cm2 of exposed skin as

horizontal surface is not justified.

On these assumptions the amount of TCDD which might then

be absorbed by the soldier 1 s body would be a maximum of

0 1305 1 86 /k f b d

. h 107

. ug or . ng g o o y we1g t. The amount

actually absorbed would be likely to be less.

A one-time administration of such an amount would not, in


. . . . l . l . k 106 r o1ger 1 s op1n1on, pose a tox1co og1ca r1s . The

Commission agrees with and adopts Dr Poiger 1 S opinion.

A more likely set of assumptions (since defoliation in

open country could not be expected to be the norm) was put

to Dr Poiger as follows:


1. A soldier in a triple canopy jungle;

2. Agent Orange sprayed at the rate of 3

gallons per acre: 3. A concentration of TCDD in the Agent Orange

of 2 ppm;

4. A spray penetration rate in the forest of


5. The whole of the amount of TCDD entering the

lowest compartment of the forest is

deposited on the ground, i.e. none is


intercepted by and bound to the foliage in

such compartment: 6. No TCDD has been lost as a result of

photodecomposition or microbial degradation: 7. The spraying took place 8 days prior to the

presence of the soldier: 8. A body weight of the soldier of 70 kgs:

9. The dress of the soldier consists of battle

trousers. army boots, long sleeved shirt

(with sleeves down) and a soft rag hat but

with his hands. face, neck and the "V" of

his chest exposed: 10. The permeability of the soldier's skin is

the same as that of the skin of the hairless

rat: (an assumption which is extremely

conservative since human skin is very much less permeable than the skin of the hairless rat used in the experiments): 11. The soldier smears his face, neck and hands

with soil for camouflage purposes: 12 . The amount of soil in contact with the

soldier as a result of the smearing is 10

gms dry weight: (this is the figure which

was used by Kimbrough et al in the CDC study

(Exhibit 1364) which determined up to 1 ppb

as a safe level for TCDD):

13 . A depth of 2 ems from which the soil is

taken and a weight of soil of 1.5 gms/cm3:

14. The whole of the TCDD which falls on the

ground is in the top 2 ems of soil: (this is

a very conservative assumption. Up to 90\

would be more likely).l08

Th e amount of TCDD which would be ava i lable in the soil


woul d be 0. 58 ug/m . The weight of soi 1 to a depth of 2

em s will be 30 kg in 1 square metre giving a concentration

o f 0.0193 ug/kg, i.e. 0.0000193 ppm (19.3 ppt).

The 10 gms of soil applied to a soldier would contain

0.000193 ug. Making the above assumptions and on the

basis of Dr Poiger' s experiments the total amount which


would be absorbed by the soldier would be 0.1% of the

amount of TCDD present in the soiL i.e. 0.000000193 ug,

which for the 70 kg man assumed results in 0.00000276

ng/kg of body weight. This is far below the presently

achievable limits of detection and was not, in Dr Poiger's . . f . l . l . . f. 109 op1n1on, o any tox1co og1ca s1gn1 1cance. Again,

the Commission accepts Dr Poiger's opinion and adopts it.

Dr Ian Munro

Ian Craig Munro, a Canadian toxicologist who gave evidence

to the Commission, was also asked to make a number of

assumptions and express his expert opinion on the basis of

those assumptions. Those assumptions, as set out in the

transcript at page 2373, were as follows:

l. A soldier in Vietnam;

2. Agent Orange sprayed at the rate of three

gallons per acre when aerially sprayed; 3. A mean concentration of TCDD of 2 ppm in

Agent Orange; 4. The dress of a soldier usually consisted of

battle trousers, army boots, a shirt with

sleeves rolled up and with his shirt undone

to the waist but wearing soft rag hat;

5. A body weight of the soldier of 70 kg;

6. Wet with spray twice in one year from aerial


7. In jungle within 20 km of a spray path but

not directly sprayed six times during that


a. Walking through jungles recently sprayed

from time to time during the same year;


9. Using a backpack sprayer to spray vegetation

for a week continuously during the day once

in that year but with access to washing

facilities and changes of clothes during

that week:

10. Sleeping on the ground between 100 and 150

times during missions in areas previously

sprayed, with varying recentness: 11 . Applying soil to exposed skin for camouflage


12. Not washing self or clothes during missions

of up to six weeks:

13. Ea t ing fruit, vegetables and occasionally

fish or animals from areas sprayed or within 20 km of spraying from time to time:

14. Drinking water from areas previously sprayed or within 20 km of spraying: 15. Drinking water collected from jungle foliage previously sprayed with varying recentness.

Dr Munro was then asked whether he would expect long term

to x i cological effects of any sort from that level of

e xpo sure. He indica ted that he would not and when asked

why. he responded:

Well, I think I have to pre-empt any statement by

saying under the conditions you have outlined

wh i ch are rather extensive it is almost

impossible to estimate with any precision the

precise quantitative risk of exposure because you d i d not present any information with respect to

t he dosage that would be received. I think there

are certain features in relation to the exposure as you have outlined it that I can comment on,

that is, based at least upon my knowledge of the

an i mal toxicity studies. I would not expect long

term effects such as cancer from such exposure

because in animal studies it is fairly clear now

that long term high dose exposure, certainly to

near toxic doses of dioxin is required over a

very long period of time, essentially the

lifetime in order to produce toxic effects like

cancer and therefore I would conclude that

i ntermittent and low level exposure over a short


period, let us say in the range of six months to

two years, I would not expect would induce any

measurable long term effects.llO

Dr Munro indicated that although he gave cancer as an

example, his opinion also covered neurotoxic and

behavioural effects as well as the range of other general

toxicological effects.

He was then asked:

If we add to those assumptions the assumption of daily exposures to malathion used for vector control, would that change your

answer?---Based on what we know about the

toxicology of these two substances,

particularly keeping in mind in so far as

one can, the relative degree of exposure I

would not expect that exposure to malathion used as- a vector control agent would

increase the risk from TCDD exposure.llO

Professor Bo Holmstedt

Bo Holmstedt is a Professor of Toxicology with the Swedish

Medical Research Council, Department of Toxicology,

Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. His statement became

Exhibit 1198. Dr Holmstedt dealt with the significance of chloracne as a sign of exposure in the following terms:


Chloracne is a sign of exposure to a number of

chlorinated cyclic organic compounds, including TCDD. Heavy exposure to these compounds is

believed always to produce chloracne. Chloracne thus serves as a sensitive marker of such


While the absence of chloracne does not

absolutely negate exposure to a dose of TCDD, its ab s ence usually indicates that there has been no

exposure to a toxic dose of the substance. I use

"toxic" as including both systemic and local

e ffects.

Whara there has been exposure to TCDD and

chloracne has resulted, it is the only clinical

sign wh i ch persists for a long period. It may

persist for the course of the exposed person's

life . In a large group exposed to mixtures containing

TCDD. the absence of chloracne: C a) makes it improbable that there was exposure

to a toxic dose;

(b) renders it unlikely that systemic disorders will result.lll

As indicated earlier. Lo 50 is a term used in toxicology

to d e note a dose which proves to be a lethal gose in 50\

o f a population to each member of which that dose is

ad mi ni s tered. Dr Holmstedt indicated that 2. 4. 5-T has an

LD50 when administered orally to rats of about 300

mi l i grams per kilogram of body weight and that the

co rrespond i ng figure for 2,4-D is 375 miligrams per

k i logram body weight. 112

I n c onsidering the symptoms of exposure to malathion, Dr

Ho lmstedt assessed those symptoms as symptoms one would


get from an acute dose of this compound. He described the

amount of malathion which one would need to ingest to get

symptoms of the sort described as "grand doses" 113 and

indicated that it would not be likely to achieve such

grand doses by the wetting of skin.

When asked whether it would be likely that symptoms of

malathion exposure would develop years after exposure by

spraying in the absence of acute effect, Dr Holmstedt


I worked with this compound in malaria

eradication in Africa. Before that we had

exposure of volunteers and I supervised the spray teams and I supervised the population and I

measured the cholonesterase in the blood of these people and we could not find any substantial

decrease in the enzyme activity of those people

that were sprayed with malathion.ll3

Dr Holmstedt indicated that no adverse health consequences

through the use of malathion were observed throughout that

African program in the late 1960s early 1970s. 114 Dr

Holmstedt was asked to assume spraying of malathion by

aircraft twice a week and internally to huts once a week

over a period of one year. He replied that: "Without



II 115

sa e .

the local conditions,


I would consider it

Dr Frank M. Dost

Dr Frank M. Dost is an Extension Specialist in Toxicology

and Environmental Chemistry and Professor of Agricultural

Chemistry at Oregon State University. Dr Dost was asked

to make the following assumptions:

1. A soldier in an open field with no canopy

protection; 2. Agent Orange sprayed at the rate of 3

gallons per acre; 3. The concentration of TCDD of 2 parts per

million in the Agent Orange; 4. The dress of the soldier consisting of

battle trousers. army boots, long sleeved

shirt with the sleeves down and a soft rag

hat but with his hands, face, neck and the

"V" of his chest exposed; 5. That the permeability of the exposed skin of

the soldier is the same as that of the

hairless rat in the Poiger experiments; 6. That the penetration rate of human skin by

TCDD is to be equated with that of TCDD

dissolved in the carrier methanol; 7. A body weight of the soldier of 70 kgs .116

In relation to assumption number 4 Dr Dost estimated the

area of the exposed portion of the soldier in such

circumstances as one tenth of a square metre, i.e. 1000

square centimetres. He also indicated that he would

regard assumption number 5 as conservative in that he

assessed that the ability of human skin to absorb the

material was probably less than that of the hairless rat

in the Poiger experiments. Dr Dost' s calculations gave


the result of a contact of . 58 micrograms. And, assuming

an absorption rate of 10% he calculated that the

individual would absorb about .058 micrograms. On the

assumption of 70 kilograms body weight he obtained a dose

level of .3083 micrograms per kilogram, i.e. a little less

than .001 micrograms per kilogram. This measurement was

far less than the no effect level derived in the

experiments of Koc iba et a 1. 117 Furthermore, the dose

administered in the Kociba experiments was daily virtually

for the life of the rats. Dr Dost indicated that he would

not expect any toxic effects from a dose received in

accordance with the given assumptions.

Dr Dost was given a second set of assumptions:

1. A soldier in triple canopy jungle;

2. Agent Orange sprayed at the rate of 3

gallons per acre; 3. The concentration of TCDD in the Agent

Orange of 2 parts per million; 4. A penetration rate of the spray in the

jungle of 10% to the last compartment. i.e.

the compartment from the ground to six feet

above the ground; 5. That the whole of the amount of TCDD

entering that lowest compartment is in fact deposited on the ground, meaning that none

is intercepted by and bound to the foliage

in that compartment; 6. That no TCDD has been lost as a result of

photo decomposition or microbial degradation; 7 . That the spraying took place eight days

prior to the presence of the soldier;


a. That the soldier had a body weight of 70


9. That the soldier was dressed in battle

trousers. army boots, long sleeved shirt

with the sleeves down and the soft rag hat,

but with his hands. face, neck and the "V"

of his chest exposed; 10. That the permeability of the soldier's skin

is the same as that of the skin of a

hairless rat; 11. That the soldier smears his face, hands and

neck with the soil for camouflage purposes; 12. That the amount of soil in contact with the

soldier as a result of the smearing is 10

grams dry weight; 13 . That the whole of the TCDD which falls upon

the ground is in the top 2 centimetres of

that soil; 14. That the soil which is used in assumption 11

for camouflage purposes is taken wholly from that top two centimetres of soil and has a

weight of 1.5 grams per cubic centimetre; 15. That the deposition rate is the same as in

the previous assumptions, i.e. 5.8

micrograms per square metre but reduced to

0. 58 micrograms per square metre because of the 10\ penetration rate.118

Dr Dos t was then asked whether he would expect any toxic

e ffects on the soldier. He indicated that he thought not

and went on, "I would be very. very confident that there

would be no effect. There is an incredible dilution

here." 119 (emphasis added).

In re-examination by Counsel Assisting, Dr Dost dealt with

t he relationship between short term and long term effects

as follows:

You were asked some questions by my learned friend Mr Mcinnes about weight loss, about


anorexia, about liver damage, about thymus injury, about kidney damage, matters of that order in relation to TCDD?- ---Yes.

Are those effects effects that you would expect acutely soon after application - within six weeks of application or years

later?----Those kinds of effects, the loss

of appetite and so forth would probably

occur if exposure was large enough; it would

probably occur within perhaps several days.

In the absence of the occurrence of any of those

signs or symptoms within a few days or

weeks, would you axpect long term

consequences?- - --Not normally. I think that

if the dose is of just the right order that

-· as you know, the lethal effect of TCDD is

long delayed. It takes sometimes weeks

before a lethal dose will cause death.

Presumably there are going to be lesions

that develop late in that time course, so it

would really depend on the dose.

Are we talking about weeks and months or are we talking about years?--- -We talking about

at most a few weeks, very few weeks.120

(emphasis added)

2,4-D and 2,4,5-T

The rates of aerial application of herbicide in Vietnam

were of the order of 15 kilograms per hectare of 2,4-D and

2,4,5-T. 121 However, in Phuoc Tuy Province 90\ of Ranch

Hand herbicide was applied for defoliation purposes with

only about 6 % reaching the ground through multi-canopy

forest . 122 vegetat1on Even assuming that 40% reached

ground level the intensity of the spray would be six

kilograms per hectare of 2,4-D and a like amount of

IV- 107

2 . 4. 5 - T. These amounts are the equivalent of 600

mil ligrams per square metre. If a soldier were lying

na ked o n the ground he would present an area of about 1

sq u a r e metre of skin to the falling droplets and

a cco rd i ngly, may be exposed to 600 milligrams of 2,4-D and

2 .4.5 - T. Assuming a body weight of 70 kilograms gives a

dose of about 8 . 5 milligrams per kilogram body weight.

Ho we ver. the degree of absorption by the skin must also be

co nsidered. Assuming the upper limit of skin absorption

of 6\ then the absorbed dose would be 0.5 miligrams per

kilo grams body weight . This is only about 1\ of the

estimated minimum dose required to produce toxicity.

Dosa ge due to contact with sprayed plants may be expected

to be less than via direct exposure due to the uptake of

2 .4.5- T into plants and its degradation on the forest

flo or.

Bearing in mind the composition and application rate for

Agent White, quantities to which a soldier lying naked on

t he ground would have been exposed are 300 milligrams of

2.4 - D and 75 milligrams of picloram. Assuming a 70

k ilogram body weight these figures convert to 4 milligrams

pe r kilogram body weight in the case of 2.4-D and 1

mil ligram per kilogram body weight in respect of

IV- 108

picloram. Assuming an absorption factor of 6% these

figures convert to 0.25 milligrams per kilogram in respect of the 2,4 - D in Agent White and 0.6 milligrams per

k.i logram in respect of the pic lor am in that herbicide.

The latter figure must be compared with the LD 50 value

for acute toxicity in mammals of between 2000 and 3750

. 11. , . 1 . h . l 123 m1 1grams per ogram 1n t e case of p1c oram.


Ramsey J C et a l . examined the rate of absorption of

2.4.5-T (l kilogram per litre) in a group of 21 forestry

workers engaged in spraying herbicide from helicopters.

back packs and tractors. The workers took. no special

precautions to minimise exposure to themselves. The

estimated dose from a full day's work ranged up to 0.063

milligrams per kilogram for back pack sprayers and 0. 07 3

miligrams per k i logram for herbicide mixers. Tractor

drivers absorbed 0.04 mi ligrams per kilogram and

supervisors 0.011 miligrams per kilogram. The primary

route of absorption was through unprotected skin. About

2% of the dose was absorbed via the respiratory airway.

Lavy e t a 1 125 measured 2. 4, 5-T absorption in back pack

sprayer and, following a three hour spraying period

observed inhalation of 0.1 mi ligrams and skin contact of

82.6 miligrams for a 65 kg man. The calculated skin


absorption factor (i.e. the proportion of 2,4,5 - T on

e xposed skin which is absorbed) was 3-6\, giving an

absorbed dose of 0.077 miligrams per kilogram.

Experiments in human volunteers have demonstrated that

almost all of oral doses of 5 miligrams of 2,4,5-T are

absorbed into the body126 and that 2,4,5-T is rapidly

excreted, unchanged, by the kidneys with the half - life of

clearance from plasma and appearance in urine of about 20

hours. 127

The likely maximum ground level application rate of TCDD

following aerial spraying of Agent Orange may

calculated by using the following estimates:

Maximum Agent Orange application rate = 40 kg/ha. Proportion of Agent Orange reaching ground level = 30\.

Maximum likely TCDD concentration = 5 ppm. Maximum TCDD application rate at ground level

following TRAIL DUST mission = application rate x proportion reaching ground level x TCDD

concentration (40 kg/104 m2) X 0.3 X (5 X 10-6)

6 ug/m2 or

6 millionths of a gram/square metre or 6 x lo-10 grams/square centimetre


This agrees very closely with the estimate of 8. 8 ug of

TCDD per square metre made by Reggiani in 1980

128 . Six


ug/m is 6 orders of magnitude less than the TCDD


concentration in the Missouri horse arena (which was 4. 5

grams and is l/40th of the TCDD

concentration in Seveso Zone A. It is similar to the

mean TCDD concentration in Seveso Zone B. the zone from

which no people were evacuated, and in which the chloracne

incidents was similar to the even less contaminated Zone

R. To date, no long term health effects have been

detected in the inhabitants of Zone B. 130

Since soldiers would probably have had very much less

exposure to sprayed soil than inhabitants of the

contaminated Zone B. it is difficult to see how long term

health effects could be observed in troops as a result of

TCDD exposure from soil.

Direct spraying with Agent Orange would yield a maximum

cutaneous dose of 6 ug of TCDD which is 1/3 of a

cutaneously applied dose (16 ug) which has been shown to

d . ff 131 pro uce no tox1c e ects.

TCDD is insoluble in water and is rapidly photodegradated

on the surface of plants, so intake through drinking water

or passing through defoliated areas after several days had

elapsed would be negligible. Further, walking through

vegetation in which some appreciable amount of skin or


clo t hing contact with vegetation occurred would imply a

j ung l e of such density that a great deal less than 30% of

t he sprayed herbicide would reach ground level and hence

be available for human contact even immediately after


Wit h a maximum concentration of coastal fish of 979 parts

per trillion (ppt) of TCDD and an estimated minimum toxic

do s e of 7 ug for a 70 kg man, one would have to eat about

100 kgs of the most heavily contaminated fish in the space

o f 2 - 4 weeks in order to approach the minimum toxic dose

of TCDD. As fish i s estimated to have comprised about 1%

of t he diet of Australian troops ingestion of toxic

c oncen t rations of TCDD through food appears extremely


I nhalation

The fact that the diameters of the sprayed droplets of

herbi c ide were very much larger than the diameters needed

f o r lung deposition to occur, coupled with the low

volatility of TCDD, means that respiratory exposure to

TCDD would have been negligible.



Australian personnel possibly sprayed 1240 litres of Agent Orange in 1966. If one assumes that the skin absorption

factor for TCDD is the same for 2,4,5 - T, and that the TCDD

concentration in Agent Orange is 5 parts per million then

the most heavily exposed applicators possibly absorbed

36.5 x 10- 6 ug per kg body weight per day. This is

l/2800th of the estimated minimum toxic dose of TCDD which

indicates that it is very unlikely that any Australian

received toxic doses of TCDD as a result of perimeter

spraying with Agent Orange in 1966.

Evidence of John Bamford

Comparative evidence of exposure is also obtainable from

the evidence of John· William Bamford. a land management

officer employed by the Victorian Department of

Conservation of Forests and Lands. Mr Bamford commenced

his employment with that Department in August 1970 and,

when he first joined the Department, was employed as a

spray hand and in that capacity used hand - held wands

attached by hoses to a pressure tank. mounted on wheels and

pulled behind a land rover. He initially used an 80%

solution of the ester form of 2. 4. 5-T and later a 40%


s olut i on. In the course of his duties he sprayed

somewhere between 800,000 and 1,000,000 litres.

Mr Bamford's statement became Exhibit 1126. Paragraph

t hree of that statement indicated that he did not wear

g l oves. hat or other protective clothing: merely long

trousers and a long sleeved shirt in the cooler weather

and long trousers with a short sleeved shirt in warm


Paragraph 5 of this statement indicated a particular

i ns tance where he entered the 180 gallon capacity spray

t a n k for the purpose of making repairs. He was inside the

t ank for some five minutes and was naked at the time. The

ta n k at that stage contained roughly 150 gallons and the

level of herbicide was some 18 inches below the top of the

t a n k which was about 4 - 4 1/2 feet in diameter and

c y li ndrical in shape. In respect of the instance when he

was locked in the tank, an occasion when he was

e ndeavouring to fix the agitator , he did not wash or

s hower for about 4 or 5 hours after the incident.

Mr Bamford also used knapsacks for about 4 - 6 weeks every

12 months, ma i nly in inaccessible areas where the trailer

IV- 114

could not be pulled behind the land rover. Additionally.

he used a knapsack mister for about 1 day in 16 .

Mr Bamford's involvement in herbicide spraying spans a

longer period than that of spray applicators in Vietnam.

Not only is the period of his involvement longer than the

normal tour of duty (l year) but his involvement was much

more constant. Furthermore, he has given evidence to the

Commission of an incident which resulted in substantial

direct exposure to virtually the whole of his body. And

paragraph 5 of his statement indicates that such an

incident was by no means an isolated one.

Paragraph ll of his statement was not admitted during the

exposure hearings as evidence of health effects was not

being taken at that time. However. it was subsequently

admitted and it discloses "I have no health problems and

none of my children has any health problems or other

disabilities". Mr Bamford has three children born in

1966, 1973 and 1980.

Whilst Mr Bamford's experience alone is not definitive on

the issue of exposure to 2,4-D or 2,4,5-T. it does provide

some evidence and, as such, weighs against short term or

long term effects as a result of limited exposure to such


IV- 115

The e xposure models dealt with in this section are of two

Lypes : either a consideration of conditions in Vietnam to

esti ma te the dosage level based upon certain assumptions or . on t he other hand. the dose required in order to

p r odu c e adverse health effects (short term or long term).

The r e are two consequences of this consideration of

e xp osure models. The first

cons ideration of all the aspects

sp ray drift) of exposure of

he rbicides in Vietnam is not

is that a detailed

(e.g. wind direction and

Australian servicemen to

warranted: attempts at

prec ision are unnecessary and, in any, event , of spurious


The s ec ond consequence is that the available toxicological

i nformation (cf Chapter V) establishes that a dosage level

necessary to produce adverse health effects would not have

bee n reached in service in Vietnam. This conclusion sits

c om fo rtably with other conclusions in this Report.


The greater proportion of herbicide usage in South Vietnam

was by aerial application: either by fixed-wing aircraft


or helicopters. Apart from the location of the flight

path the question of the extent of the spray drift and

volatilisation must be considered. In order to assess the extent of any direct exposure to such aerial dispersal of

herbicides, there are essentially two methods of

approach. The first involves a consideration of the

official records of flight paths and troop movements; the second involves a consideration of the evidence of

individual veterans. There is no doubt that members of C

Company of 5 RAR were proximate to a fixed - wing herbicide

flight mission of 22 August 1969. Accordingly, a

consideration of that occasion is included in this section.

3.1 Herbs Tapes Analysis

Bruce Manning of the Department of Veterans' Affairs

produced five volumes which became Exhibits 1067, 1068,

1069, 1075 and 1076. These volumes were the result of his

extensive work in checking and correlating evidence as to

the location and particulars of Ranch Hand herbicide

missions with all the available material as to the

location of Australian troops in order to determine the

distance between such missions and Australian personnel

or, as Mr Manning referred to it, the "proximity" of

troops to such missions.

IV- 117

The sources and manner of preparation of the HERBS tapes


ar e discussed in the NAS Report at Page III-31 et seq.

Another convenient discussion is to be found in the AVHS

Report on November 1981 at page 48 et seq. The NAS Report

concluded that:

Despite its various shortcomings, and although the immediate source of information the log

book - was not intended for the purposes to (sic)

which the information was used by the Committee, the HERBS tape is the best, and in fact, the only

c omprehensive compilation of the major part of

the herbicide operations conducted in the Vietnam War . 132

It is to be noted that the same view was adopted in the

133 Senate Report .

Th e HERBS tapes have been criticised on various grounds

fo r inaccuracy and incompleteness. These critic isms are

c onveniently discussed on pages 31-39 of Section I I I of

the NAS Report and that discussion and related aspects of

t he question are further discussed by Mr Manning in his

Basic I 134 Volume at page 27 et seq. Mr Manning notes

that a random sample of more than 200 original missions

reports checked against the HERBS tapes showed that the

HERBS tapes correctly recorded the relevant

. f . 135

1n omat1on.


A high degree of correlation between continuing visual

evidence of herbicide missions records in Landsat

photographs and flight paths as recorded on the HERBS

tapes, was demonstrated in an excellent piece of

scientific work by Dr R . h d 136 1c ar s. This work

concentrated on the Rung Sat region as that was an area

which was heavily sprayed. There is no reason to believe

that a similar analysis of any other area would yield a

different result. Dr Richards' report is Appendix 1 to

this chapter.

Messrs Dudenhoeffer and Hubbs, who were directly involved

in the Ranch Hand program, gave evidence before the

Commission at its exposure hearings. Mr Dudenhoeffer

explained the accuracy of navigation achieved by Ranch

Hand navigators usipg radio cross-fixes on the Tacan

navigation system with which the Ranch Hand's aircraft

were . d137 equ1ppe

available from and the

altimeters which were


radio 138


accurate height readings

pulse operated absolute

Mr. Dudenhoeffer made it

clear that the mission reports on which the HERBS tapes

were ultimately based included details of the exact

co-ordinates between which the spray was actually deposted . . 139

as recorded after the miss1on by the lead nav1gator.


Wi nd speed and direction, he explained, were able to be

a ccu r ately determined by reference to smoke from rockets

de liberately placed for that purpose or otherwise

a va i lablP. in the area and that missions did not proceed

whe r e the wind was above the permitted maximum

140 speed . The accuracy of the maps used was determined

by survey flights conducted before defoliation

. . 141

m1ss 1ons .

Mr Dud e nhoeffer also testified that spraying was not

carried out later than 11 am or when the temperature

e xceeded 85° fahrenheit 142 or when weather conditions

might operate to cause the spray to extend beyond the

desi red swath .

Th e Comm i ssion found Messrs Hubbs and Dudenhoeffer to be

co nv i ncing and reliable witnesses.

One of t he criticisms levelled against the HERBS tapes is

that it fails t o take into account dumping, that is to

say . t he use by Ranch Hand crews of a valve which enabled

the m, in an emergency, t o jettison the entire contents of

the aircraft's herbicide tank within 30 seconds . Dumping

was put i nto its perspective both by Mr Dudenhoeffer and

Mr Hubbs. The former flew some 160

. . 143

mlSSlOnS the


latter 400 . . 144 mlSSlOnS Yet their personal involvement included ·only one instance of dumping each145 .

Moreover. any instance of dumping was in fact the subject

of a detailed report which had to be prepared by the lead

. t h. b 144 nav1ga or upon 1s return to ase.

In addition, despite the generalised allegations made as

to the unreliability of the HERBS tapes (for example, the

initial submission lodged by WAA. Exhibit 1040. at pages 26-27 and pages 33-34) no material has been put before the

Commission to establish any specific instance of herbicide

being sprayed from Ranch Hand aircraft otherwise than in

accordance with the material recorded on the HERBS tapes.

This proposition does not overlook the evidence of Messrs

Daniels and Freeman which is considered later in this

chapter. On the contrary, the detailed analysis which

emerged from the examination and cross-examination of Mr

Ducker demonstrates quite convincingly the high degree ·of

accuracy of both the HERBS tapes records and the material

related to troop location.

Some doubt as to the accuracy of the troop location data

was expressed by Mr Walker. the first witness to give

evidence before the Commission. He said that he "would

never have been surprised after a days march for a unit to


be anything up to 1000 [metres] out, depending of the

nature of the 146 country". However, he conceded that

such an error had occurred only once in his

0 147


This i s to be contrasted with the evidence of Mr Walker ' s

ba t talion commander, Brigadier Kahn. He described the

navi gation training of the Australian officers as being

s econd to none and said that, while he would not be

surprised at some units being up to 500 yards out of their

position at times, error as lar:ge as

he would be immensely worried by an

148 1000 yards. He also explained the

checks that were available to prevent such an event

occurring149 including battalion supervision (which, in

the case of his battalion. included supervision from the

command helicopter). artillery fire, smoke and helicopter


S i mi larly, Mr Ducker was able to express a high degree of

confidence in the positions in which he had fixed his

t r oops on 22 August 1969 150 despite the 1 imi ted

vis i bility that was available in the area through which he 0 151

was mov1ng.


3.2 Spray Drift and Volatilisation

In compiling his proximity analysis, Mr Manning adopted a

5 km criteron. He described this as "necessarily an

arbitrary figure" 152 apparently in order to accommodate any distribution of herbicide as a consequence of drift

and volatilisation outside the primary spray swath. He

referred to advice from "US authorities", based on test

studies at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida suggesting that

under operational conditions in South-East Asia, 75% of

the herbicide inluding drift and volatile moities would

have fallen within the spray swath and the remaining 25%

within 1 km.

1 153 . Young et a g1ve the parameters in relation to Ranch

Hand spray missions as:

mean deposit rate - 3 gallons per acre

swath - 260 feet + or - 20 feet

spray line - 8.7 statute miles (14 kms)

quantity dispense - 950 gallons

If the mean swath width of 260 feet is adopted the above

figures are internally inconsistent as the following

calculation reveals:




area of spray rectangle 260 feet x 8.7 statute miles

x 5280 feet per statute mile

11,943,360 square feet

274 acres

thus, the deposit rate per acre 950/274

3.46 gallons per acre

(not three gallons per acre as specified).


in fact

of Mr Dudenhoeffer was 154

16 kms in length

that the spray line

i.e. 10 miles. The

following calculation, made on the basis of a 10 mile

spray path, indicates the correctness of Mr Dudenhoeffer's


area of spray rectangle 260 X 10 X 5280

13,728,000 square feet

315 acres

deposit rate 950/315

3.01 gallons per acre

If only 75\ of the herbicide actually fell within the

spray swath then the acutal deposit rate would be in the

region of 2.25 gallons per acre.

If in fact 25\ of the herbicide drifted in one direction

only (i.e. down wind) for 1 km, then adopting the maximum


figure suggested by the Eglin Air Force Base tests and

assuming an equal distribution of the drifting herbicide

over that area a concentration of herbicide in that area

may be calculated as follows:

area of drift 0.625 miles (1 km) x 10 miles

6.25 square miles

4,000 acres

amount of herbicide deposited on drift rectangle

25\ x 950 gallons

237.5 gallons

deposit rate per acre 237.5/4,000

0.059 gallons per acre

ie, concentration less than 1/50th of a concentration of 3 gallons per acre and about 1/40th of the concentration

which would be experienced if 75% of the herbicide fell

within the spray swath.

If it were to be assumed that drift occurred to the extent

of 5 kms then.

deposited spray

concentration of

assuming the

so drifts


same proportion of

(i.e. 25\). the

distributed over




theoretical drift rectangle would be 0. 0118 gallons per

acre or less than 1/250th of the theoretical concentration


of 3 gallons per acre or about l/200th of the acutal

concentration per acre assuming a deposit rate within the

spray swath of 75\.

Furthermore, any drift may be expected to consist of

droplets at the smaller end of the droplet sizes and,

since there is an increasingly small percentage of

droplets at each stage of droplet size as the end of that

spectrum is approached, there would not be an even

distribution of drifting particles throughout the drift rectangle. Accordingly. the concentration at the extreme end of the drift area (whether a 1 k:m or 5 k:ms criterion

is adopted) would be substantially less than the mean

figures calculated above.

In the light of available knowledge as to the probable

extent of spray drift, in particular the indication of a

very limited amount of spray drift from the Landsat

material, and for the reasons indicated above, it is

unrealistic to adopt 5 k:ms as a criterion for "proximity".

Even if one kilometre was adopted as the distance over

which drift might occur, the concentration of herbicide in

the drift rectangle would be so insignificant that no

practical purpe>se is served in extending the width of the primary spray swath on account of the possibility of


drift. The only justification for extending the width of the swath for the purpose of considering proximity is one

based upon the possibility that the available information

in relation to troop location and the co-ordinates for

spray paths given in the HERBS tapes may be subject to

some minor inaccuracies.

As to the margin for error in troop location a reasonable

figure would appear to be 500 metres either side of the

spray path. As to the location of the flight path of the

Ranch Hand aircraft there does not appear to be any cogent

evidence to suggest the adoption of any margin and,

accordingly, a margin of 500 metres either side of the

spray flight path would appear adequate to allow for

errors both in troop location and aircraft flight path.

Another criterion or parameter adopted by Mr Manning in

preparing his proximity tables was what he termed the

one-day time criterion. This involved considering the

location of a body of troops not only on the day of the

spray mission but also on the day before. A unit was

included in his proximity tables if it was found to be

within 5 kms of a spray path either on the day of the

spray mission or on the day before.


Mr Manning ex t racted. inter alia, a list of those

instances where the location of troops on the day of a

mis s ion was withi n 0.5 kms and, for more abundant caution,

between .5 kms and 1 km from a spray path, when the

her bicide delivered on a mission was Agent Orange . The


r e sul ts in respect of the distance 0 - 0. 5 kms are set

out in Table 24; the resu lts in respect of the d i stance

0 . 5- lkm are set out in Table 25.




21.08. 69 5 RAR Bn HQ 37 0 . 5

5 RAR Spt Coy 173 0.5

22.08. 69 5 RAR C Coy 123 0.1

l Arm Regt

B Sqn 2 Troop 17 0.5

27.08 . 69 5 RAR Bn HQ 37 0.2

5 RAR Spt Coy 173 0. 2

l Fld Regt lOS Bn 117 0 . 4

31.08 . 69 l Arm Regt

B Sqn 2 Troop 17 0.5

3 Cav B Sqn

2 Troop 25 0.5

3 Cav B Sqn

3 Troop 25 0.2

IV- 128




25 . 06.68 1 Arm Regt

C Sqn 2 Troop 17 0.8

21.08.69 5 RAR B Coy 123 0.7

1 Arm Regt B Sqn

1 Troop 17 0.7

3 Cav Regt

B Sqn 2 Troop 25 0.7

31.08.69 6 RAR Bn HQ 37 0.7

1 Fld Regt 101 Bn 117 1.0

As Exhibit 1102 demonstrates, if the "day before"

positions are included, the only additions to Table 24

which is based upon the 0-0.5 km criterion, are:

(i) 3 CAV 1 B 1 Sqn 2 Troop who were within 0.4 km the

day before (21 August 1969),

(ii) 1 ARM Regt 1 B 1 Sqn 2 Troop who were within 0.5 km

the day before (26 August 1969)

(iii) 5 RAR 1 A 1 Coy who were within 0. 5 km the day

before (30 August 1969).

In respect of (.ii) above, their distance from the spray

path on the day of spraying was 6 kms and in respect of

(iii) above their distance was 22 kms.


There are no additions to Table 25 i.e. adopting the

criterion 0.5 to 1.0 km if the day before positions are


If the criterion was "within 5 kms". Mr Manning at page 8

of Attachment E of his Basic 2 Volume (which became

Exhibit 1068) indicated that the number of Australian

personnel who would have been exposed to

Agent Orange spray mission would be 4129.

t hat all personnel in the respective Units

f ield on the day in question.

a fixed-wing

This assumes

were in the

For the reasons indicated above it is really only material

t o consider those units which come within 0.5 kms from an

Agent Orange spray path. Such instances occurred on only

four days in the whole period of seven years and only 10

units were involved. Of these. only five were less than

0. 5 kms from a spray path. Eliminating duplications from

Table 24. the total number of servicemen involved would

appear to be not more than 517.

In determining the number of troops who had a potential

for exposure by being within 0.5 kms of a spray path. the

following further circumstances need to be considered:


(i) 5 RAR battalion headquarters and 5 RAR support

company figure twice in the Table, i.e. on 21

August 1969 and on 27 August 1969. In

determining the number of troops who may possibly

have been directly exposed, those units should be

counted once only, i.e. there should be no double


(ii) The strength of 5 RAR C Company is shown in

Exhibit 1101 as having been 123, based upon the

unit strength tables produced by Mr Manning.

However, the evidence of Mr Ducker made it

abundantly clear that the possibility of direct

exposure existed for only a limited number of

those troops namely those members of 8th Platoon

who had been sent forward at the time of their

mission in order to fill their water bottles at

the stream which lay to the north of the main

body of 8 platoon and company headquarters.

There were about 30 men in 8th platoon on the day

. . 156

1n quest1on Even if it be assumed that as

many as half of that number were forward in order

to fill their water bottles, the potential for

direct exposure was in fact confined to some 15



(iii) One of the units within 0.5 kms on 27 August 1969

was one field regiment, 105 battery an

artillery unit. The spray mission took place

between 0955 and 1030 hours. 157 Mr Nunn gave

the following evidence about the day-time habits

of artillery in a fire support base:

And when they were not operating, when there was no cannonade proceeding, what do bombardiers and gunners do? Do they stay in their

quarters. do they drill. do they clean their

guns or do they do a combination of all

those things?---Well. Sir, the nights are

made up of pickets and ---

I am concerned about the daylight only.---This is relevant Sir. The fact is at night time you

are working on pickets around the defensive perimeter, you also have your weapon to keep clean, and you are on stand-by but in day

time you try to get some sleep.

And get into your dugout or hole or whatever name you apply to it?---That is right Sir.l58

The number of Australian troops exposed and the extent of

their exposure would thus appear to be very low.

3.3 C Company 5 RAR- 22nd August, 1969

As Table 24 indicates, 22nd August 1969 represents the

occasion when Australian servicemen were closest to a

fixed-wing aerial herbicide mission, based on the


information contained in the HERBS tapes and troop

location This involved c Company of 5 RAR.

In respect of this incident, the following

transmissions were recorded:

1125H F/5 dust msn. area I


RAR Ref. earlier discussion re trail

that we denied clearance on, A/C now in

require an immediate aborting of msn.

Action: II FFV FSCE & G 3 Air contacted. A/C have

no clearance for msn at this time we are

investigating. To 5 RAR - we appear to have clearance from you

to time 0950 - 1030 - msn. is being aborted.

From 5 RAR: C Company have been sprayed - request assurance spray is harmless.

Answer: Have been assured on many occasions from II FFV that spray is completely harmless to

animal life.159


This occasion was considered during the Exposure Hearings

of the Commission. In particular, Claude Henry Ducker.

the commander of that company in South Vietnam between

April and December 1969 gave evidence on 6th and 7th

February 1984160 . He also lodged a written submission

with the Commission. 161

Mr Ducker's evidence does not provide clear guidance as to

this incident. The Commission acknowledges the


difficulties of recalling details of a particular incident some 15 years later. Further difficulties arise from Mr

Ducker's demeanour as a witness: he was not content to

give his recollections; he appeared to be seeking to

advocate a particular cause. The result was that he came

to regard a number of questions as offensive to him.

c Company comprised Headquarters (HQ) and 7,8 and 9

Platoons . HQ, including the Company Commander, were

moving with 8 Platoon on 22nd August. 8 Platoon itself

numbered around 30 men and HQ together with some attached

artillery personnel numbered about 15 - making a probable total of about 45 men moving as the combined HQ and 8

162 Platoon group.

Mr Ducker fixed the probable time of the spray mission in

. 163

quest1on as between 0950 and 1030 hours.

HQ and 8 Platoon had stopped to make a locstat (a location

statement by radio to HQ 1 ATF) prior to the aircraft

appearing. According to Mr Ducker's recollection they had

moved about 300 yards from their overnight position at

t hat time. At the relevant time. Mr Ducker recalled, 7

Platoon was operating about 700 yards to the south-west of

8 Platoon and HQ whilst 9 Platoon was operating about 500


yards to the north-west. 164 The locations and movements

of the thtee groups, plotted in accordance with the

locstats, noted on the relevant log sheets and

commander's . 165 d1ary reflected fairly closely the

various relative positions as recalled by Mr Ducker. 166

From these records and Mr Ducker's evidence it is clear

that 7 Platoon was well removed from the relevant spray

flight path.

Mr Ducker accepted that the position of HQ and 8 Platoon

(apart from some forward troops of 8 Platoon) at the time

of the spray mission was that position recorded for 8

Platoon and HQ at 1140 hours and 1210 hours that day,

namely reference 273773. i.e. some 480 yards south of the

nearest point on the relevant spray flight path as

recorded on the HERBS 166 tapes. At that time 9 Platoon

appears to have been moving from its 1020 hours position

to the position which it reported at 1140. Accepting the

estimate by Mr Ducker that 9 Platoon was about 500 yards

to the north-west of HQ at the time of the spray mission

and selecting a point along the course travelled by 9

Platoon which is about 500 yards to the north-west of the

HQ position. 9 Platoon would have been roughly 280 yards

south of the spray flight path when the mission took place.


Although there was ample opportunity it was never stated

by Mr Ducker that any members of 9 Platoon complained of

being sprayed. He told the Commission t.hat some men in

the group with which he was travelling were forward of the

main body of that group for the purpose of filling their

167 water bottles.

It appears to the Commission that only a small proportion

of the men present on this occasion were directly

underneath the spray path. Adopting. as it does, the

criterion of being within 500 metres either side of the

spray path as constituting direct exposure, the Commission

concludes that members of C Company 5 RAR on that day were

directly exposed.

However. as indicated earlier in Exposure Models (section

2) a single such instance would not represent any health

risk to those involved on the basis of the known

toxicology of these chemicals.

It is significant to note that no member of C Company 5

RAR was called as a witness at the Health Effects hearings

of the Commission. If the health effects alleged to arise

from minimal exposures do, in fact, arise then this group,

representing the best instance of direct aerial exposure.


would be expected to be amongst those suffering adverse

health consequences. The failure of WAA to call any

member of this group is telling.

3.4 Participation in Helicopter Spraying

Four witnesses allege participation as crew members of

helicopters which allegedly sprayed herbicide: Messrs

McMahon, Cotter. Haxell and Rhodes.

John Farguhar McMahon

Mr McMahon gave evidence of having flown in 4 helicopter

sorties in the northern part of the Australian tactical

area of responsibility (TAOR) using herbicides loaded at

Da Nang on 15 September 1967. He had no recollection that

he was personally wet with the spray during those

missions, and he did not identify the herbicide

used. 168 It would seem that the missions to which he

testified were those described in the Air Force

during Operation

170 Report, Ainslie




in the Army Report and

having been carried out

the purpose of crop

destruction, which destruction was to have been carried out on "14 or 16 Sep. if possible" in the Slope 30 area.

The herbicide used was not identified.


Clive Francis Cotter

Mr Cotter gave evidence that between April 1967 and April

1 968. he was a Senior Engineering Officer stationed at

Vung Tau with 9th Squadron RAAF and that during that

peri od he was given instructions to construct a spraying

rig t o be fitted to a UH - IB helicopter for the purpose of

. . 171 H . d h . defo l 1at1on. . e satd that he constructe sue a r1g

and t oo)(. part in the testing of it over the sea using.

i ni tially, a combination of water and shark repellent and

l at e r "a chemical which was supplied to me from some

ou t s i de


source". He was very vague as to the

identity of that chemical. He said "There were some

drums. from memory. and in discussions with some of my

squadron personnel some two or three years ago, it was

brought to mind that they were in grey drums with some

coloured band on them. 172 He could not recall the

colour of the coloured band. He thought that he "probably

t • II h ' fl ' 1 h' 173 go 1t on 1s y1ng c ot tng.

been tested. he had nothing further

After the rig had

to do with it. 172

He d i d not take part himself in loading the chemical into

t he tank in the helicopter and it is not clear who

did. 174 His personal recollection of the grey drums was

faint in the extreme and appears to have derived

substantially from discussions at recent reunions:


Up till that time you had no recollection of

that?----I had no real consideration of it.

1 believe I had a recollection but it did

not concern me.

Who jogged your memory about these grey drums? - ---Several people discussing it at


It is to be noted that the drums as described were grey in

colour rather than either black or dark olive green. It

may be that they were drums of the same kind as the grey

ones (with a white band) which

tendered through the witness Mr


E b


r s.

in photographs

Whatever the

drums shown in those slides contained, there is nothing to

suggest that they were drums of Agent Orange.

It cannot be concluded from the evidence of Mr Cotter that

the chemical which he used to test his spray equipment was

Agent Orange.

John Cecil Rhodes

Mr Rhodes was Task Force Hygiene Officer: in Vietnam from

April 1968 to Apr:il 1969 . A small par:t of his duties

comprised supervision of the spraying of the perimeter:

ar:eas at Nui Dat. 176 He had no recollection of the use

at any time of any of the "Agent" chemicals for that

177 purpose. Indeed the witness said:


... Under no circumstances would I allow anything

other than chemicals which were supplied from

Australia to be used in the Nui Dat area ... 178

Ho we ver. he gave evidence that at the time of his arrival

1n Nui Dat he saw between 12 and 20 drums, dark olive

green in colour each with a coloured band around the

centre 179 the bands being coloured purple and orange,

whi t e. He said that around about August 1968, he

participated as a Supervisor in a helicopter spray mission

o ver a Viet Cong garden complex in the Thua Tich area. The

herbicide used was a 50/50 mixture of Agent Orange and

Agen t Purple mixed with water because he "had no other

herbicides whatever in the Task Force 180 area". The

purpose of the mission was crop destruction, the crops

b . 181 d . ll 182 e1ng corn an m1 et.

The total quantity of Agent Orange used was between 60 and 183 80 gallons. Two sorties were flown during which Mr

Rhodes lay on the floor looking out the door of the

helicopter, giving instructions to the pilot,

communicating with him through the headphones and

microphone which he 184 wore. There were two gunners in

the a ircraft in addition to the pilot and Mr Rhodes. He

claimed that a considerable amount of spray came back into the heli c opter and "we were quite we were not wet


through, but we were wet". He modified that proposition

slightly by subsequently saying in respect of the gunners that "their clothing was damp as well" . 185 Apart from

the microphone and earphones and his usua 1 uniform, Mr

Rhodes was wearing a "bone dome" (helmet) and a flak

jacket. The gunners also wore helmets and gloves as well.

The missions described by the witness appear to be the

same missions described in the Army Report at page 3-49

para. 46. The target areas as described in the Army

Report were in the vicinity of Thua Tich, spraying was

conducted on 28 July, 1969 and the results reported were

that "thriving crops of green corn were killed within 24

hours" by herbicide spraying from RAAF rotary winged

186 aircraft. It is noted in the Army Report that

clearance for this exercise was granted by HQ 1ATF for the

spraying aircraft to return fire for fire. a strong

indication that friendly ground forces were not in the

area. The absence of Australian personnel in the area is

confirmed by the evi dence of Mr Rhodes. It is also to be

noted from paragraph 46 at p 3 - 50 of the Army Report that

the proposal was that the selected target areas were to be

sprayed with Reglone; it may be that the failure to carry

through that proposal is simply explained by his statement

referred to above that stocks of Reglone were unavailable.


I t is clear that to the extent that the incident described

by Mr Rhodes reveals exposure of Australian personnel to

Agent Orange, the exposure was very limited. The only

persons potentially exposed were. on the evidence. Mr

Rhodes and the gunners in the spraying helicopter and

perhaps also any personnel involved in the mixing and

l oading of the herbicide. As to the latter. there is no


e vidence as to the extent of their exposure.

As to Mr Rhodes and the two gunners. it is clear that they

we r e substantially protected from any chemicals which may

ha v e entered t he aircraft by the clothing that was worn

whic h included helmets for all of them. earphones.

mic r o phone and flak jacket for Mr Rhodes. and gloves for

t he gunners. in addition to their ordinary uniforms.

Mi chael John Haxell

Mr Haxell served in the RAAF as a helicopter pilot with

No. 9 Squadron Vung Tau between November 1966 and November

1 967. In a statement tendered to the

. . 188

Comm1ss1on he

said that he had participated as a helicopter pilot

(p i loting an aircraft equipped with a spray system) in the

s praying of both insecticides and herbicides in Phuoc Tuy

Province. He also said that during spraying operations

t hose i nside the helicopter (comprising pilot. co-pilot.


two crew members and occasionally a representative of the

Army) had some spray settle on them and that while

spraying herbicides the occupants would have a thick

greasy film all over them "which seemed to be the chemical . d . h d. . 189 m1xe Wlt 1esel1ne". He also said that chemicals were loaded from 44 gallon drums and that he remembered

some of the drums having faded coloured bands around them

and had "a vague recollection of faded orange colours " and

"possibly other 189 colours". However, he later conceded that he did not associate these drums with either his crop destruction or other missions. Indeed he finally said

that he had seen the drums to which he had referred in his

statement on one occasion only and then only on the back


of a truck.

Tn his oral evidence he indicated that there was only one

helicopter in the squadron which was fitted with the spray . 191 d equ1pment an in cross- examination said that the only crop destruction or crop denial mission that he recalled

flying in South Vietnam was one which had as its target a

small rice growing area in the north- east of the

province. It was about 20 minutes transit time at 90-100

knots from Nui Dat. 192 The only defoliation missions

which he could recall flying were around the perimeter

areas of Nui Dat and the Horseshoe

location. 193

IV- 143

one in each

The re is no proper basis for concluding that Mr Haxell' s

e v i d ence establishes any exposure of Australian troops to

Ag e n t Orange. While he suggested that he saw drums with

f aded Orange bands on the back of a truck at Nui Dat, he

e xpressly dissociated those drums from any of the

he rbicide missions which he flew.

Gi v e n the dose required to produce health effects (as

ind i cated in section 2 Exposure Models), the limited

numb er of occasions and the extent of exposure on such

occ a s ions, the Commission is satisfied that any exposures

arising from such incidents do not carry any associated

like lihood of resulting health effects.

3 . 5 Evidence of Veterans

Vi et nam veterans contributed evidence to the Commission in

th r ee ways: by giving evidence at formal hearings such as

t h e Exposure hearings; by attending Informal Sessions held

throughout Australia and by making written submissions .

Ev i dence given at Formal Sessions has been fully

considered and referred to where apparopriate, in the

rel evant sections of this Report.


Material gained from Informal Sessions has also been

used. In some instances such contributions have resulted

in follow- up work by the Commission; in other cases

particular avenues for investigation have been indicated. This material has also provided useful information which

has been included in a summary of the responses in this

Report. see Chapter VI. Of course, all material received

at Informal Sessions provided important background

information which enabled the Commission to become aware

of the views and experiences of many Vietnam veterans.

Many written submissons were also received and

considered. Neither the quality of such submissions nor

their usefulness should be under - estimated. An excellent example of

of Terry


t ypesetter

the usefulness of written submissions was that 194 Gygar whose standard of typescript was

only by a ·qua 1 i ty of handwriting of which any

would be proud. The Commission found Mr

Gygar' s submissions, especially those on ground

navigation, accuracy of maps, difficulties in low level

air navigation and aspects of Ranch Hand operations well reasoned and most informative.



In the course of the Commission's inquiries on the issue

of Exposure a number of instances relating to alleged

events at the Nui Oat base arose. These included leaves

f alling from the rubber trees; alleged contamination of

t he water supply and the nature and extent of ground

s praying of the camp and base perimeters. Finally, the

Hol t/Lugg trials. the purpose of which was to develop safe

procedures for perimiter spraying, are considered.

4.1 Rubber trees

Thr e e witnesses at

Harris and Freeman, the Exposure hearings, Messrs Daniels, alleged that they were subjected to

aerial spraying at Nui Dat with an unidentified

herbicide. Their evidence is to be compared with that of

Brigadier Rodgers on a similar topic.

It seems reasonably clear that in or about September 1966

a substantial area of rubber plantation within the Task

Force Base at Nui Oat was defoliated, i.e. the trees lost

t he i r leaves. The thick canopy of the rubber trees had

bee n of considerable value to the troops based in the

area because of the protection which it afforded from the

tropical sun.


Acccordingly, the loss of leaves was a matter of some

great moment to those who were affected. But evi dence

given about this incident is conflicting as to the cause

of the loss of the leaves.

William Orril Rodgers

Brigadier Rodgers, at pages 365 366 of the Transcript,

described an incident:

it was said that one of my officers, my

hygiene officer had defoliated the rubber trees. He was the officer who was in charge of the

spraying program around the perimeter. It was

found that the rubber trees were dropping more

leaves than they normally did. , .[T]he sun was

shining through and the Commander was getting

very angry because it was hot without the shade

protection. It was suggested that the hygiene

officer had left some herbicide in the tank which was used for the herbiciding as well as the

insecticiding, and had sprayed these.

Brigadier Rodgers said that when he put this allegation to

the Hygiene Officer:

He denied it, that he had done it at all. I asked

him specifically - and part of the deal of having

my equipment to do the herbiciding was that they

wash it out several times, in fact three times, they put insecticide in it . I put it to

him that he did not do this. He insisted that he

did. It was never resolved.l95

IV- 147

Having agreed that it would be usual for the insecticide

t o reach the foliage of the rubber trees, Brigadier

Rodgers went on to say that:

As a result of that- I did not know but it was

s aid - we always used an oil base, petroleum base

a s the carrier and we changed from diesel . . . . It

was a diluent and we changed from either diesel

to kero or kero to diesel because it was

suggested by someone that the spraying of the

diesel would have made the leaves drop - just the

diesel itself without any herbicide in it.l96

It should be noted that a similar view was expressed by Dr

Cr o sby:

In the United States, diesel oil is a very common

weed killer. In fact, in California it is called

weed oil and it is one of the most commonly

used,most prevalent herbicides to be used in the State of California.l97

At page 417 of the Transcript, Brigadier Rodgers fixed the

ti me for the occurrence of the event described above as

"i n the early dry of 1966, so in about December 1966".

Raymond Arthur Daniel

Mr Daniel was a member of the Regular Army who served in

Vietnam from May 1966 to May 1967. He produced a number

of photographs and slides which were said to have been

ta ken at the Australian Task Force Base at Nui Dat, on the


north east perimeter. in "July/August, August to

September, mid-August" 1966. 198 The slides and

photographs became Exhibit 1127. He firstly claimed that the slides and photographs related to an incident in

August 1966 when a camouflaged aircraft flew over the Nui

Dat Base several times, spraying. A plane appeared in

some of the slides and photographs, and it was a Cl23. Mr

Daniel said of the leaves in the area where the aircraft


They died slowly over a period of 4 - 6 weeks.l99

The thrust of this portion of his evidence was that

several of the slides and photographs which depicted the

spraying aircraft also showed lush foliage, and other

photographs and slides which he initially claimed were

taken 4-6 weeks later allegedly showed foliage which had

died as a consequence of the spraying.

He said in cross- examination that he took many photographs

while he was in Vietnam. and that when he had finished a

roll of film he would send it to his wife in Australia who

had it developed for him and then sent it back to him. He

agreed that there was no reason why he would keep exposed

film in Vietnam for months on end, and that it was

. . . . . 200

undesirable to keep ftlm 1n hot and humtd cond1t1ons .


The fact was that the so-called "before" slides, i.e. Nos.

1 . 2, 3 and 6 bore processing dates which indicated that

t hey had been developed in May 1967 whereas the so-called

"after" slides, i.e. Nos. 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11. 12, 13 and

1 6 -2 2 each bore dates indicating that they had been

deve loped either: in March or April 1967. He was

cr o s s - examined about this circumstance at p. 1072 of the

Tr anscr: ipt but could offer: no real explanation and at p.

1073 t hereof he conceded that he had taken the "second

l ot " of slides at a time when the dry season had already

commenced. He did not dispute that during the dry season

g r as s in his area of Nui Dat dried off very

. . . 201 . .

s 1gn1 f 1cant ly but that some of the low vegetat1on 1n

the a rea, such as was shown in slide No. 7 tended to

remain 202 green. He conceded that it was possible that

slide No. 6 (which he had . d . b d203 prev1ously escr1 e as

ha v i ng been taken in August 1966 and showed the road as

wet (allegedly from the aircraft's spray) may have been

take n dur i ng the wet of Apri 1 or even early May

19 6 7. 201

He did not dispute that slide No. 8

(o r i ginally put forward as having been taken ·at the time

of sp r aying) had in fact been taken after slide No. 9

(or: ig ina lly put forward as having been taken 4-6 weeks

l a t er than No. He said that he did not

nec e s sarily agree with the proposition, but did not


dispute it, and then went on to say it was possible . At

p. 1126 he agreed that the banana foliage as shown on

slide No. 12 (originally put forward as having been taken

4-6 weeks after the spraying) was in no essential way

different from that shown in slide No.1 (originally put forward as showing the condition of the foliage before the

spraying). At page 1130 it was put to him that slide No.

4 (originally put forward as having been taken 4-6 weeks

after spraying) was in fact a photograph taken during the dry season . He agreed that was poss i bly the case: he

would not argue with the proposition but he would not

necessarily agree wi th it either. At p. 1130 he conceded

that it was a possibility that slide No . 3 (origi nally put

forward as having been taken during the spraying in August

1966) had in fact been taken

developed in May 1967. He

in April or May 1967 and

205 also stated that the

incident which he had photographed was the only occasion

he could recall on wh i ch an aircraft sprayed in close

proximity to him.

The Commission finds that none of the slides produced by

Mr Daniel show anything that could be described as the

result of defol i at i on . Some of the photographs simply

s how the grass in Mr Daniel's area having browned off

during the dry season whilst banana trees depict the


normal dying off of old leaves and their replacement by

new growth.

Having regard to the dates which appear on some of the

slides , the different rolls of film from which they

clear ly came, the absence of any satisfactory explanation of the apparent inconsistency between those dates and Mr

Daniel 's evidence-in-chief as to the dates upon which the

slicles were taken. the Commission cannot accept his

e v idence that the "before" group of slides preceded the

"after" group or that the spray event occurred in August

19 66 .

It is clear that no inference can be drawn from his

evidenc e that Agent Orange was sprayed over Nui Oat in

August 1966.

Ronald Bruce Harris

Mr Harri s served in Vietnam from June 1966 to May 1967 in

the RAAF as an LAC, Telecommunications Operator on the

comm unications system by which aircraft movements through

the Nui Dat area were controlled. The operations room was

at HQ l A'l'F about 400 metres into the rubber planation

west of Kangaroo helipad. 206 He initially placed the

events which he described as being in August or September


1966, but said that as a result of recent conversations

with a former Air Force Officer, he thought the correct

date was early October 1966. 207 At that time, he says

he saw an Iroquois helicopter "spraying up and down over

the Task Force Area at a low level above the trees". 208

The spray fell on him, his recollection being that it was


. 209

somew at greasy or sllmy. The area which he said the

helicopter sprayed was "the whole of the area being used

by HQ. and the 103 Signals area. There were some

engineers there". 209 The vegetation throughout the area

was rubber trees. His evidence included the following

question and answer:

Did you see the whole flight of the helicopter, or did you only see it for part of the

time?----! saw part of it, a flash.209

He said that the spray was colourless as compared with the

insecticide sprayed by fogging machines. namely. a misty white cloud. 209 He claimed that the spraying operation

went on for "at least one day. possibly up to three

days". A few days after the spraying "the leaves on most

of the trees began browning and about a week later were

falling off in very. very large quantities." Whilst some

trees only thinned out slightly. others lost almost all

their leaves. There were some areas in which there was a


straight line of naked trees.


He said that he was not aware of any other aircraft

s praying at Nui Dat during the period from June 1966 to

May 1967. 211

Af t er the event he was present in the Operations Centre

when a discussion took place between Air Force and Army

personnel. Whilst he could not recall the identity of the

persons present, he said "they would range from Flying

Off i cer, Flight Lieutenant, Squadron Leader up to Group

Captain". 210 For the Army, there were Captains and

Majors 212 present. There was an hour-long discussion

dur i ng which the Army officers accused the RAAF of

blunder i ng, and thereby poisoning the rubber trees.

However the RAAF officers maintained that they carried out


. . . 211

t e 1 nstruct1ons g1ven to them by Army personnel.

S i gnificantly, Mr Harris also recollected that insecticide

fogging was carried out regularly over three days of every

k . h" . 211 Sl"d wee us1ng ve 1cle mounted equ1pment. 1 es

p roduced by Mr Harris were tendered as Exhibit 1130.

These show thinning of and loss of foliage from the rubber

trees .

Under cross - examination he said that the particular

hel i copter was mostly obscured by the canopy of leaves,

h . . 213 even w en 1t was dlrectly overhead.


Stanford Radley Freeman

Mr Freeman served in Vietnam from May 1966 to April 1967

as a signalman attached to 103 Signal Squadron. He gave

yet another account of the causative events which preceded leaves falling off the rubber trees in the area of Nui Dat

occupied by 103 Signals Squadron.

Mr Freeman placed the events which he described in his

evidence as having occurred in September, 1966. 214 He

did so by reference to a letter dated 28 September, 1966

written by him to his fiancee describing the incident.

This letter was produced by him and tendered as Exhibit

1133. He gave evidence that on the day in question the

area around 103 Signals Squadron was sprayed with a

"clammy" spl"ay which "seemed to get into your nostrils and


. 214

everyt 1ng. He said that the spray came from

aircraft which in an earlier written statement he had

identified as "Dakotas". However, in his

evidence-in-chief he said he was not sure what they were

but . . . . ft 214 knew they were some k1.nd of f 1.xed- w1ng a1rcra .

He said that the smell of the spray was there fo.r;

days. 215 He produced a series of slides and photographs

(Exhibits 1131. 1132 and 1134) showing the rubber

plantation before the incident in question with full

foliage. and afterwards, showing loss of leaves.

IV- 155

He stated that the area of the rubber plantation occupied

by 103 Signals. Task Force HQ and an American group which

was also in the same area, measured about 300 metres by



metres. The area of the rubber trees which lost

t heir leaves measured approximately 200 metres by 400

metres. within the larger 217 area. He saw fogging

machines being used regularly all over the base including

h i s area.


He said that he was unable to identify the

aircraft that flew over otherwise than as a fixed-wing

aircraft which he did not actually see. He only heard it,

but, by its noise, knew it was a fixed-wing aircraft

rather than a helicopter. He only heard one aircraft noise at the time when this incident 219 occurred. He agreed

t hat he heard a plane approach above the canopy of rubber

trees, go near to him and fly away into the distance, that

he was not able to see the aircraft or any spray coming

out of it. 220 He said that the leaves began falling off

the trees within a week of his observing the plane going

overhead and that within a couple of weeks nearly all the

t . th t h d 1 . l 221 rees 1n a area a the1r eaves.

The witness was then permitted to give hearsay evidence of

ce rtain matters he was told of by a Captain Spencer after

the aircraft had gone over.

Spencer told him "the bastards


He alleged that Captain

have defoliated II 222

us .

He said that Captain Spencer told him that "they had sent

the wrong craft over the wrong area", that he had told

them to go away. that the message was relayed to "them"

and they "took off". He was standing in the

communications tent about 10 yards from the radio room

when Captain Spencer told him this .


Although the

witness sought to convey the impression that there was a

"panic on" in the operations room when he arrived, he

agreed that in fact he saw nothing and heard nothing

before he had -his conversation with Captain 224 Spencer.

He said that later he sent out a message to Canberra via

Hawaii in relation to the . . 225 :1nc1dent that the message

t . . f c b

226 d was sen 1n response to any enqu1ry rom an erra an

was sent about 2 days after the incident. 227

The evidence of Brigadier Rodgers, and the photographic

evidence of Harris and Freeman make it clear that some of

the rubber trees at Nui Dat lost their leaves at some time

during the second half of 1966 . That circumstance was an

occasion of some discomfort to the troops who were

deprived of their shade and it no doubt became a matter of

some notoriety. It is not surprising in those

circumstances that rumours and fanciful explanat i ons as to

the cause of the incident should be generated around the

Base and it is not surprising that people who were at the


Base at the relevant time might now have mistaken views as

to a causal relationship between an event which did in

fact take place (the defoliation of the rubber trees) and

what they have come to believe over the years to be the

t hen factual cause of that defoliation. A further

illustration of "myth development" on this topic is Mr

N ' d 229 unn's ev1 ence that he was told (some four years

later) of the defoliation of rubber trees at Nui Dat

t hrough mistaken spraying of herbicide to kill spiders.

Obv i ously, the differing versions as to how the

defol i ation occurred cannot be correct. The Commission is

of t he view th'.it the more likely explanation is that put

forward by Brigadier Rodgers. He was personally involved

i n t he relevant events at the time whereas the other three

were. at best, bystanders.

Further evidence on the topic of this defoliation derives

from the evidence of Wee-Lek Chew, a consultant botanist

of some 24 years' experience and research, virtually all

of which related to the South-East Asian region. Dr Chew

i ndicated that rubber trees of the variety in question

would suffer patchy defoliation in the dry



He also agreed that a heavy spray of dieseline would be

requ i red to defoliate such trees although he noted that a


lighter concentration over a longer period may have the


. 231

effect. Dr Chew also reviewed all the slides

tendered or marked for identification on this issue,

including those referred to above.

The competing explanations would appear to be an

application of herbicides or a continued application of

insecticide mixed with dieseline. The Commission is of

the view that the latter explanation is more likely.

However. even if the incident did. in fact. involve the

application of herbicide the Commission is satisfied that the extent of the exposure would not be such as would give

rise to adverse health effects consequent upon any such


4.2 Dam/water supply

Mr Erbs gave evidence of a practice alleged to involve the

washing of a Landrover used for carrying herbicides and

insecticides in a dam at Nui Dat which he claimed "was the

water supply that supplied our "t" 232 un1 . He made it

clear that he believed that the water supply was for

drinking purposes. When asked who made the decision to

give this vehicle 'a swim'. he said

233 that he was

"just carrying out instructions that were passed down".

IV- 159

He was prepared to and did name the person who he

s uggested gave the instructions. but the misleading nature

of h i s allegation was revealed by the following question

and answer:

You mean - did he actually say 'put the truck in

the lagoon' or did he say to wash it down?

You see the difference?----Yes. I do. He

would say, 'Get the vehicle clean' 233

He said that although commonsense told him not to put weed

k i ller in water that he was going to drink, he did not

have any thoughts whatsoever about the alleged practice of

washing the truck in the dam. 234

He also said that he took about 2.000 photographs while he

wa s . s h v· 235 1n out 1etnam and. although he agreed that the

truck being washed in the dam would have made a most

unusual-looking photograph, he never took such a

photograph. He explained that circumstance by saying that

"you never take your camera along with you on spraying

0 0 236

mlSSlOns". However, he was obliged to concede that

slide number 6 produced by him as part of what became

Exhibit 1162 showed Vietnamese mixing insecticides in the

f 0 0 0 0 h d 236

course o a spray1ng mission on whlch he a gone.


As indicated earlier (section 1. 2 of this Chapter) the

Commission had cause to regard the evidence of Mr Erbs

with some caution. Mr Erbs' suggestion is contrary to all . . 237

Army lnstructtons and, if true, would not only be

unauthorised but also likely to result in disciplinary

measures, if discovered. Some water sources served

purposes such as nurturing the rubber trees referred to

earlier and providing a means of attracting mosquitoes

away from the base camp area. Clearly, precautions in

respect of drinking and washing water would be higher lest

enemy forces might contaminate such supplies.

In all the circumstances the Commission is not satisfied

that Mr Erbs' suggestion as to the washing of a vehicle or

vehicles in water subsequently used for drinking purposes

is established: his suggestion is rejected.

4.3 Perimeter Spraying

This topic has already been dealt with in some detail when

considering the identity and amounts of chemicals used in

Vietnam (section 1). In the course of the Exposure

hearings, in the written submissions lodged and in the

information provided at Informal Sessions, allegations

were made that Agent orange was used in and around the Nui

Dat base.


Wi th the exception of certain evidence given by Mr Erbs

(reference to some aspects of which have already been

made) and to the use of a small quantity of 2,4-D and

2,4,5 - T in the Holt/Lugg trials conducted in December

1967. there is no evidence of the use of Agent Orange or

ot its constituents in ground (as opposed to aerial)

spraying by or in proximity to Australian troops in South

Vi etnam.

I t i s true that the Army Report records an approval given

by HQ 3 Corps for the provision of six barrels of Agent

Orange for defoliaition of the perimeter of Nui Oat, to be

d iluted in the ratio one part herbicide to two parts

di esel fuel and to be applied by ten hand sprayers under

t h e supervision of a US chemical

. 238

off1cer. There is,

however, no evidence that this proposal was ever

i mp l emented and its i mplementation seems inconsistent with

the evidence of Brigadier Rodgers, the Senior Medical

Of fi c er in South Vietnam at the time. He stated that no

Agent Orange was sprayed at Nui Oat or Vung Tau and that

h e never saw at any of the Australian bases 55 gallon

d rums with an orange- coloured band, either full or

e mpty . 239

IV- 162

The Commission accepts this evidence. It might also be

expected, if that proposal had been implemented, it would

have been the subject of some consideration or comment by

Major Holt or Mr George Lugg in connection with the

herbicide trials which they carried out between December

1967 and January 1968. However, there was no such comment

in the reports made by them, 240 and no Agent Orange was

used by them in their trials.

The evidence of John Cecil Rhodes, ATF Hygiene Officer at

Nui Dat from April 1968 to April 1969, has already been

considered (section 1.2). It appears from his evidence

that his experience of Agent Orange is confined to that

which was used for a helicopter mission at Thua Tich in

241 August 1968.

Leslie Robert Nunn, who was responsible for the dispersal of pesticides in the Task Force Area and in Phuoc Tuy

Province during his second tour of duty from January 1970

to January 1971, stated that the only herbicides which

were then available were Tordon (used for vines and

trees), Reglune (a knock- down herbicide for immediate

. ) 242

effect) and Hyvar X (a ground ster1lant .

Evidence on this topic was also given by Paul Erbs. As

has been already indicated, the Commission has grave

IV- 163

doubts as to his credibility and treats his evidence on

this topic accordingly.

4.4 Holt/Luqg Trials

The Holt/Lugg trials have been considered earlier (section

1. 2) in the context of considering what chemicals were

u s ed by Australians in the Vietnam conflict. Hence, this

section concentrates on the precautionary aspects of these

t rials .

Following a request for assistance from 1 ATF in October

1967 Mr G. A. Lugg, Defence Standards Laboratories,

Department of Supply, and Major E. S. Holt, Scientific

Advi sers Office, Department of Defence, were sent to

Vietnam with equipment and herbicides to conduct

experiments using different combinations and strengths of

chemicals on the local vegetation. They were also to

establish handling and spraying techniques and to train spraying teams from 1 ATF.

The tests were conducted during the dry season in December

1967 January 1968. Nine herbicides were sprayed on

t ypical undergrowth to assess their short-term effects on

i nd i genous plants. These were compared with the effects


obtained with diquat alone and in separate admixture with

dimethylsulphoxide, and another carrier

N, N1 dimethylformamide.

The results of the tests were subsequently written up and

published by Mr Lugg. 243 The herbicides used in Test

One in the Test Program ME. which appear at Table 1 of

that report, are set out below:

IV- 165

Common Name

2 .4 - D

2,4 , 5 - T

Am i t r ole

At razine

Cacodylic Acid


Da l apon

Di camba

Di. quat

Li nuron

Trade Name (Supplier)

Estone 80 (ICIANZ)

Buxtone 80

Weedazole (Geigy)

Primatol A

Phytar 560


Chemical Name and Composition

30\ ethyl ester of 2,4-D

80\ butyl ester of 2,4,5-T

25\ 3-amino, 1,2,4-triazole

80\ 2-chloro-r-ethylamino 6-isopropyl-/amino-1:3:5-trazine 30\ sodium salt of dimethylarsenic/acid

Chlorflurazole S. 20\ sodium salt of 4,5-dichloro-2-trifluoro-methyl benzimidazole

Le-Pon 85\ sodium salt of

2,3-dichloropropionic acid

Banex 20\ dimethylamine salt o f

2-methoxy 3-6-dichlorobenzoic acid

Reglone 40\ 9:10 dihydro-8A, lOA

diazonium phenathrene dibromide monohydrate

Afalon 50\ N(3 , 4 dichlorophenyl) - N­

methoxy- N methylurea

Maj o r Holt himself compiled a comprehensive report of the

244 Test Program in May 1968 and this report was tabled

in t he House of Representatives on 27 March 1980. 245


The experiments conducted at the 1 ATF area Nui Dat were

to techniques for dealing with the acute

problem of dense vegetation in the wire and mine fields at

1 ATF. A total of approximately 100 acres were sprayed

with a knockdown or quick-acting herbicide mixture during

the developmental and instructional periods. Five acres

were sprayed with a sterilant, or growth retardant

chemical, and aerial spraying techniques were developed .

The program was modified when it was decided by the

Commander 1. ATF that · unit teams from 2 RAR and 3 RAR

Defence Employment Platoons were to be trained in the

techniques and procedures of herbicide spraying while

operating in their own unit areas.

This was

original medically

felt necessary after it was found that the

spraying team from the Hygiene Squad had been

affected by the chemicals and more strict

procedures and precautions were enforced. The Hygiene

Squad Team were barred from further spraying operations on

medical advice from the Senior Medical Officer l ATF until

the medical problems were overcome. At the conclusion of

the training of the unit teams the equipment and chemicals

were handed over to 1 ATF and "Instructions for Spraying



being annexure C to Exhibit 1105, were

IV- 167

The report's recommendations in respect of equipment were

as follows:

No defects were observed in the spraying operations, but nature of the chemicals

recommendations are made:

the equipment during due to the corrosive used the following

a. At the end of a spraying session the tank

should be filled with clean water and the

pump and spraying equipment be operated to

clear chemicals from the pump and spray


b . The vehicle driver is made responsible for

rna intenance of pump and engine and is to

keep all exposed unprotected steel work

lightly smeared with oil to prevent


c . The vehicle is to be washed with detergent

and fresh water using the pumping equipment and spray-guns at reduced pressure

{approximately 150 psi) every 2 to 4 days,

depending on the amount of chemicals

contaminating the vehicle.246

Maj o r Holt also recommended that in any future project of

th i s nature some operators should be trained, the

e quipment tested, and the calibration carried out in

A t 1 . . d f . 24 7 us ra 1a pr1or to eparture or V1etnam.

As to operational timings, Major Holt cited several facts

which emerged from the time of day of operations:


(a) Spraying could not commence in the morning

un!:il the normal clearing patrols had

checked the perimeter. This meant that 0700 hrs was about as early as spraying

operations could begin outside the

perimeter. Similarly. operations had to be completed by 1830 hrs at night.

(b) In December 67 and January 68 the weather

was hot, and no rain fell. A summary of the

weather is attached as Appendix 3 to Annex

A. This meant that knockdown spray applied

after about 0930-1000 hrs was wasted as it

evaporated from the foliage very quickly,

and did not thoroughly kill the vegetation. The leaves and grass browned but

considerable sap remained in the plant,

hindering burning off. Additionally strong sunlight caused one of the chemicals

Reg lone. to break down. and so spraying had

to be completed before about 0930 hrs on a

clear day. (c) If the weather was overcast the humidity

increased. the clouds protected the spray

from the sun. and spraying could continue

for as long as the spraying team and driver

remained in a fit state to work. However

high relative humidity and high temperature are not compatible with full face

respirlltors, rubber gloves. and cover- up

clothing. Consequently operator fatigue was most noticeable by mid-afternoon on an

overcast day.

(d) Generally the operators started work at

0700-0730 hrs and ended the morning spraying by 1000 hrs. After a half hour break, the

chemicals for the afternoon and next

morning's spraying were measured, mixed, and poured into labelled jerricans . Afternoon spraying normally recommenced at 1500- 1530 hrs and ended at 1700-1730 hrs. Cleaning

respirators. gloves and equipment, and

washing and showering after spraying

occupied from 30- 45 minutes. Consequently almost one and a half hours a day were

required for after spraying maintenance and personal hygiene.248

IV- 169

The summary of weather referred to in paragraph (b)

reveals the average maximum temperature for December 1967

a s 89 degrees F and the minimum temperature at 71 degrees

F. wi th relative humidity 71 per cent. For January 1968

t he average maximum temperature was 85 . 5 degrees F,

mi n i mum 68.5 degrees F and the relative humidity 68 per

c ent. 249

The reference to "opera tor fatigue" refer red to in

paragraph (c) parallels a similar reference made in the

statement of Brig . Gen. W. 0. 250 Rodgers where he

recalled noticing "the spray teams were quite distressed

f rom the heat" . This aspect is further considered in

s ection 6 of this Chapter.

Plastic measuring buckets originally used proved

u n s atisfactory for the reason that the chemicals softened

the plastic and the wire handles worked loose . Major Holt

c i t ed one instance of an operator who lifted a bucket by

the handle which broke free allowing 2 gallons of chemical

c oncentrate to "saturate his

. 251

clothlng". The liquid

c hem i cals were supplied in forty-five gallon drums which

were rolled onto a raised platform for decanting via the

pla s tic measuring buckets into jerricans .

IV- 170

These were metal five gallon jerricans, and the pouring

process required the attention of two operators , one to

hold the jerrican and filling funnel steady and the other

to pour the chemicals into the funnel. Parallax error

through the eye-pieces of the respirator occasionally

caused minor distance misjudgment during the trials as

when pouring or turning off a tap. Major Holt, however

states that the operators soon learned to bend the head

forward and look directly through the eye-pieces of the

respirator when judging the distance to an ob j ect below

th 252 em.

Spraying with a mixture of Reglone, Gramoxone, Tordon,

Agral. and DMSO commenced on Sunday 3 December 1967 and

continued up till Friday 8 December 1967 without any toxic

effects being noticed. Major Holt in his report states

that the operators were asked if they had experienced nose bleeds or sore throats but on each occasion they had

replied that they were quite fit . 253 On 8 December 1967

the operators reported to the RAP exhibiting symptoms of

breakdown mucous membrane, nose bleeds, ulceration of

. . . . . 253

llpS, and COn]UnCtlVltlS.

Of the three officers who had been actively engaged in

mixing and spraying the chemicals none showed any of the

IV- 171

me d i cal effects described . As at least one of the

of f i cer s had been exposed to the chemicals as much as any

of the operators it was deduced that personal hygiene and

at tention to safety precautions were the points which

needed attention. 1t was discovered that at least one of

the operators and one of the drivers had spilled chemical

co ncent rates on themselves but had made little or no

ff . 1 254 a ttempt to wash o the chem1ca .

Originally the operators had worn nose and mouth

res p i rators. plastic eye shields and rubber gloves but

whe n no adverse medical effects had been noticed after

three days spraying the operators were permitted to remove

the eye shields which were difficult to keep in place then

to remove the nose and mouth respirators which were very

hot to wear and soon filled with sweat. Finally the

r ubbe r gloves were discarded except when mixing the

c he mi cals .

More stringent precautions were introduced which included

full- face respirators, rubber gloves and cover-up clothing wh en mi x i ng and spraying. Emphasis was placed on personal

hygiene, careful washi ng of equipment, and clean

cloth i ng . The safety precautions were per haps

overst ressed but i t was then felt that, whereas new

IV- 172

operators naturally acquired skill in using the equipment

the precautions could not be learnt on the job and had to

be taught before spraying operations and enforced most

strictly during operations to ensure that they would not be forgotten.

DMSO was used as an accelerating agent in the spraying

operations at 1 ATF to speed up the intake of the

chemicals into the vegetation and progress of the

chemicals within the plant system. As such it was most

successful during the trials but it also accelerated the

intake of the herbicide chemicals i nto the operators

wherever an accidental spill occurred. For this reason

the use of DMSO was discontinued and it was then

recommended by Major Holt tha t it should not be used in

herbicide work. 254

The two particularly significant recommendations made by

Major Holt in his report were:

(a) In any future operation of this type,

operators must be trained, the equipment and chemicals tested, calibration completed, and the techniques of the operation must be

established in Australia prior to going to


(e) Stringent safety precautions should be

applied for the handling and spraying of

chemicals. These should be based on

consultation with medical experts and the

manufacturer. 255

IV- 173

Major Holt prepared "Instructions for Spraying Herbicides"

for use by l ATF. 256 It comprises three parts: Part

One deals with the pump and equipment, Part Two with the

properties and quant i ties of chemicals, and Part Three

wi t h spraying procedure. Section 4 of Appendix I to Part

One deals with operating instructions and, in respect of

protective equipment, requires:

6. Full face respirators and rubber gloves must

be worn by all team members, including

drivers, when spraying with spray guns is in progress . Norma 1 "Greens" are sui table as

protective clothing provided trousers were t ucked into boots and sleeves rolled down.

The cartridges in the respirators were to be

changed after 8 hours spraying, clean

uniforms worn each day, and the respirators and gloves must be washed and cleaned after

completion of spraying.'

7. Rubber gloves and respirators were also to

be worn by those actively engaged in mixing

the chemicals and pouring mixtures into the spray tank. Care must be taken that the

chemicals are not splashed or spilled on

personnel, clothing, or equipment.

8. The chemicals are water soluble and

immediate washing with plenty of water is

essent i al to remove the chemical from

clothing, skin or equipment.257

Append i x II to Part One describes the ancillary equipment

used for spraying herbicides. These include items such as

s pray gun, boom spray , fibreglass - l i ned chemical tank

holding 300 gallons, high pressure hoses, full face

IV- 174

respirc1tors, Ansell rubber gloves. buckets and metal


on the topic of cleaning these items Major


All the items can be cleaned by washing and

rinsing in clean water. The tank and spraying

lines and guns can be cleaned by first draining

the tank of chemicals through the suction hose,

filling the tank with water, and operating the

pump and spraying equipment.258


The only item needing maintenance on the tank was the

filter, and gloves were to be worn when the filter was

removed for cleaning with water and a stiff brush. High

pressure hoses were to be cleaned weekly. Respirators

were to be washed after each sprayi ng session and wiped

internally with methyl ethyl or butyl alcohol for personal hygiene. Fi 1 ters were to be replaced after eight hours

spraying. Gloves were to be washed on the hand, removed,

rinsed in clean water. and hung up to dry after each

spraying session.

Part Two of the Instructions259 detailed the properties and quanti ties of chemicals required for various sprays.

In describing Reglone (d i quat) paragraph 5 to Appendix I

required gloves and respirators to be used when mixing and

IV- 175

i mmediate washing of skin splashed with the solution. The

us e of a protective cream such as barrier cream before

s praying was also recommended. The same precautions were

pres c ribed also in the use of Gramoxone (paraquat). No

s u c h i ns t ructions were given in respect of Tordon 50-D.

Full safety precautions, however, including the wearing of

r es p i rators and gloves, were prescribed for the mixing of

Hyvar (containing 50 per cent Bromacil) and when applying

tha t mixture by spray guns .

Herb Lc i des were not to be stored in the same building with

insec t i cides. Chemicals and chemical containers were to

b e k e p t in a separate building used exclusively for this

p u rpose, and the building required to be dry and well

v e n ti lated. Empty containers and any unused chemicals

we r e to be returned to the storage area at the end of each

d ay . Burning and dumping of empty containers were

p erm i tted under certain conditions, including the chopping

of h o les in the containers, avoiding as disposal areas

la n d which might later be returned to crop and utilizing

lev el ground so that any residue would be absorbed by the

s oi l and therefore less l ikely to be carried away in water

r u n o f f. Any chemical remaining in a container was to be

drained in t o a pit dug in sandy soil and isolated from

wat e r sources. In the event that burning or dumping were


not possible empty containers were to be carefully rinsed

with water and detergent. and allowed to remain in the

container for 15 minutes with intermittent agitation. The

rinse solution was to be poured into a pit dug in sandy

soil. The container was to be re-rinsed and again the

rinse poured into the pit. The container was to be

inverted and let to drain for 15 minutes. Finally the

d b 1 1

. 260

rum was to e comp ete y flushed Wlth clean water.

The officer commanding (OC) the team plus one member of

the team were required for mixing the chemicals. Full

face respirators and gloves were to be worn. The OC Team

was to supervise the drawing of the quantities of the

chemicals and supervise and assist in pouring the

chemicals into two jerricans. At the water point the oc

Team and one member of the team were required for pouring

the chemical into the spray tank and filling the tank with

the required amount of water. Full face respirators and

gloves were to be worn . The instruction warned that care

must be taken that the correct pair of jerricans was used

when filling the tank, that spilling and splashing be

avoided, and that the tank was to be filled with water

only to within three inches of the collar of the access

hole. Only those actually required for spraying were to

remain on the spray vehicle. Respirators and gloves were


to be worn by all team members on the vehicle, including

the driver. when chemicals were being added to the tank

and when the spray guns were used. Sleeves were to be

rolled down and long trousers worn. Any spillage of

chemicals could be washed off the tank or the jerrican at

the water point provided common sense was used and the

chemicc1ls not transferred on to other personnel or

0 261


The oc Team was to ensure that team members were wearing

respirators and gloves whilst spraying. Many other

instructions were given as to aspects such as speed and as direction of spray and wind

require elaboration here.


factors. They do not

In respect of procedures to the following after spraying,

t he main instruction of interest was that contained in

paragraph 2(e) namely "Gloves may be removed at oc Team's

discretion " . 263

It is quite obvious. from a consideration of the

instruct i ons, that they were based upon a real

apprec i ation of the potentially harmful nature of the

che micals comprising the spray mixture. The emphasis

t hroughout is on safety precautions being properly


observed, the active participation of the oc Team and the wearing at all relevant times of respirators, long

clothing. and gloves. Indeed paragraph 2 (e) of Part 3.

Section 4. clearly instructs that gloves should be worn

until the absolute cessation of all spraying activities.

As the chemicals used in the Holt/Lugg trials and those

recommended for use following those trials have already

been considered in some detail as to aspects such as

quantities. dates and locations. further consideration is not warranted; especially having regard to the evidence in

respect of exposure models (as to which see section 2).

Evidence was received by the Commission in respect of the

Hol t/Lugg trials from Vietnam veterans. The most cogent

evidence in this was that of Robert Clifford Gibson

who was involved in those trials . In his statement he

recounted his experiences as follows:

I was serving in Vietnam between November. 1967 and November, 1968 as a Defence Platoon

Rifleman. During that time I was involved with

George Lugg • s first exper imenta 1 spraying. This lasted for a period of three or four days.

During this break there were three of us in the

back of a truck which was completely rigged up

with hoses at the back. We would stand on the

back of the truck and direct the spray into the

vines. This spraying was conducted during the

dry season in early December 1967.

IV- 179

On t he first day of spraying we wore masks,

goggl e s and gloves, however we found these

grossly uncomfortable. After the first day we

too k o ff the masks after talking to one of the

NCO's there. While we were spraying our clothes

we re soaked in the chemicals and we would breath

in chemicals after we had taken off the masks

be c ause it couldn't be avoided.264

A pho tograph of Mr Gibson wearing a face mask became

Exhi b it 1060. The caption on the reverse side suggested

tha t i t was taken in or about December 1967. His evidence

was generally consistent with the reports of these

0 265

tr 1a ls. Allowances of course need to be made for the

fac t t hat he was endeavouring to recall events some 16

yea rs after they occurred.

Mr Gibson c l aimed to have experienced some short - term

hea l t h effects as a result of his brief involvement in

this spray program. The Commission is satisfied that this was the case: it is consistent with the contemporaneous

repo r t, drafted by Major Holt at 1200 hours on 9 December

1967 . which indicated that medical symptoms suffered by

me mbe r s of the spraying team were due to insufficient use

of protec tive clothing and equipment and poor hygiene


0 0 0 266

1sc1pllne .

The br i ef period of Mr Gibson's involvement in the spray

prog r a m weighs most heavily against his experiencing

IV- 180

long-term health effect due to this exposure. Even if

this were not so, it would be difficult to reach a

positive conclusion in that regard due to the existence of alternative possible causes and incidents giving rise to at least si.milar symptoms which incidents pre-dated his service in Vietnam.

It is clear that the Holt/Lugg trials represent an

instance where there is some certainty as to the duration

of exposure, the manner of exposure and the identity of

the chemicals involved . These trials confirm that

exposure levels were highest for applicators and

the demonstrate an endeavour to take advantage of

experience which the trials provided in order that an

effective herbicide program, with due regard to the health of Australian personnel, might be put into effect.


A common feature t hroughout the life of the Commission was

for veterans who could neither recall nor establish that

to allege that they must have they were directly exposed been indirectly exposed.

ways: transit through

Allegations were put in four

areas which had been previously

exposure through consumption of sprayed with herbicide;


local food (notably seafood); exposure via drinking water

and exposure to soil.

The lay evidence received by the Commission, notably that

c alled by VVAA, failed to adequately consider two vital

a spe cts: the environmental fate of the herbicide spray

and the concept of dose level.

It remained for Counsel for Monsanto to call Dr Donald

Gi bson Crosby on the former issue; the latter has already

been considered in Section 2 - Exposure models.

Dr Crosby,

Un i versity

Professor of Environmental Toxicology

of California at Davis, has had over

at the


y ears' experience in organic chemistry with particular

ref erence to pesticides. His

o u t 1n Exh i bit 1106, appear

7 40 - 745.

eminent qualifications, set

in the Transcript at pages

The evidence of Dr Crosby , which is

Commission, may be conveniently reduced


accepted by

to a number



(i) Within a rna t ter of seconds, or at most a few

minutes, of Agent Orange being sprayed on to


foliage. a spreading of the esters on the leaves

to form a shiny film on the surface of the

leaves occurs. During this short early stage a

transfer of the components of the herbicide may b b h . . h . 267 occur y rus tng aga1nst t e foltage.

{ii) Each constituent of the total herbicide (2,4-D

Cii i)

ester. 2,4,5-T ester and TCDD) will thereafter react in the environment independently, having d t 1 . t 's . 2 6 8 regar o own properttes.

Immediately upon contact with foliage, each of

the three constituents begins to dissolve in the

cuticle (the waxy, fat-rich surface of the leaf) and to penetrate the leaf structure.

Penetration·by 2,4- D is the fastest of the three

followed by 2. 4. 5-T and then TCDD. The process

of penetration of the cuticle by formation of a

solution in the wax is complete within "a matter 268

of a few minutes to several hours".

(iv) Within two hours after spraying. the components

of Agent Orange are in solution in the waxy

surface layer of the leaf "and at that point

they are no longer available to be rubbed off.

IV- 183

( V )

It would be no easier to rub that wax off than

it would be to rub the wax off an untreated

1eaf". 269

Thereafter, the two phenoxy herbicides penetrate

the leaf structure, while the TCDD remains in

the cuticle. Short of removal by scratching

(and subject to photodegradation) the TCDD will

remain dissolved in the fatty cuticle of the

leaf. 269

( v i) After a period of hours the appearance of a leaf

( v ii)

s prayed with Agent orange is indistinguishable

269 from that of an unsprayed leaf.

TCDD, in the medium of the lipid-rich leaf

cuticle and the esters of 2,4 - D and 2 , 4,5-T on

the leaf, photodegrades in sunlight . The bonds

between the carbon and the chlorine in the TCDD

molecule are progressively broken and chlorine

is relaced by hydrogen from the organic solution

around it. A similar process occurs in the case

of 2,4 - D and the 2,4,5 - T. 270 The rate of

photodegradation of the 'I'CDD is unchanged,

whatever the concentration of the TCDD in the

Agent Orange may be. 271





The successive intermediate products of

photodegradation are transient, and its end

products have virtually a nil toxicity. 272

After six hours in full sunlight TCDD cannot be

detected on or in the leaf, at levels of

d . f b 273 etect1on o l pp .

The operative factor in the process of

pho todegrada t ion is ultraviolet light energy in

sunlight. The existence of a cloud cover makes

l . l d. . . 273 1tt e 1fference 1n th1s regard.

(xi) About 10-20% of the ultraviolet light to which


( xii i)

the top canopy of a three canopy forest is

exposed will reach the forest floor. About 40%

will reach the forest floor in a two canopy

forest. 274

There is a direct relationship between the rate

of photodegradation of TCDD and the quantity of

available ultraviolet light energy.

Any TCDD on foliage at the forest floor of a

three canopy forest should decompose within 30

IV- 185

(x i v)



hours (of exposure to ultraviolet energy).

Experiments in forest roughly comparable to a

Vietnam jungle demonstrate the disappearance of

TCDD after two days. 275

TCDD has an extremely low vapour pressure or

volatility. Any odour detectable in a recently

sprayed forest would be from something other

than TCDD. 276 Thus even a person who smelt a

chemical odour in a recently sprayed area would 277

not be inhaling TCDD vapour.

For all practical purposes, any TCDD which gets . t . l . h d . . 276 1n o sot rema1ns t ere esptte ratn. The

esters of 2, 4-D and 2, 4, 5-T reaching soil would

be hydrolysed into the corresponding acids, and

whilst in that form they will move more readily

in surface water, but they are unlikely to


penetrate to ground water.

If Agent Orange is sprayed on to the surface of

a body of water, the herbicide components

shortly hydrolyse into the corresponding acids which thereafter dissolve in the water. Any

TCDD, being insoluble, and being heavier than




water, would eventually sink to the 278 bottom. However initially, Agent Orange would remain as

a film on the surface for several hours in still

water but would break up more readily if the

surface were not still. During this period,

photodegradation of all components would occur

and if the film remained sufficiently long, the

break down to a TCDD component might 279

considerable degree. Some photodegradation

of TCDD within the water would thereafter

continue below the surface. 280 80% of

ultraviolet light reaching the surface of the

water penetrates to a depth of five feet in

clear water,

feet. 281

and 10% penetrates to twenty

TCDD would ultimately bind to any organic

. f h t 282 mater1al at the bottom o t e wa er.

The rate of photodegradation of TCDD in the

water would, in the absence of a hydrogen donor,

be decreased and would cease in relation to TCDD

under the surface of soil or sediment, which

. bl 282 would then be photochemlcally sta e.

IV- 187

(x i x) In the presence of turbidity, TCDD would be

absorbed on to the surfaces of any suspended

organic particles with which it made contact.

In conditions of turbidity, little

photodegr:adation would occur below the surface 279 of the water.

( xx) 2,4-D, 2,4,5 - T and TCDD break down slowly under

(xx i )

microbial action in the soil: the half - life of

2.4 - D in those circumstances is a matter of days

or several weeks; that of 2,4,5-T is distinctly

longer: being measured in weeks or months, wh i lst

the rate of microbial degradation of TCDD is

very slow and


demonstrated .

has only recently been

TCDD binds quite tightly to soil particles by an

electrostatic process, and so bound , its

availability to be absorbed on human contact

with the soil is severely . 284 restr1cted.

Animal tests show that orally ingested soil

contaminated with TCDD does not release the TCDD

withi n the digestive system of the animaL but

that the TCDD is excreted with the soi1. 285




By an electr:ostatic process, free TCDD ingested

by a fish is attracted to basic protein and

consequently tends to concentrate in the


. 286

1ver. Where the TCDD has been so

ingested, that part retained tends to be found

as to 10\ in the muscle of the fish and as to

90\ in the viscera, primarily the liver. 287

Accepting the levels of TCDD found by Baughman

and Meselson in homogenised fish from rivers in

South Vietnam (8 to 810 parts per trillion), and

a conservative human no-effect level of 1 ng.

per kg. of body weight for TCDD. it would be

necessary to eat 1-2 kg of the edible parts of

the fish daily (throughout a whole lifetime) to


exceed the no-effect level.

These propositions relate to 2,4-D. 2,4,5-T and TCDD since

they. were the dominant subject of allegations. The

authors of these allegations often refused to acknowledge

fundamental propositions, such as the fact that airborne

droplets of TCDD released in an aerial spray and exposed

to sunlight during their fall. would be the subject of



5.1 Transit through defoliated areas

This avenue of potential for indirect exposure requires a

consideration of the amount of herbicide which may be

expected to reach the ground or ground foliage as well as

factors which would serve to diminish that herbicide

c ontent.

As to the former. the Commission notes the unlikelihood of

t roops in open areas being exposed owing to the purposes

of t he spray missions and a consideration of the spray

f light paths together with troop location data.

Interception by the vegetation canopy is thus a factor

wh i ch would serve to diminish exposure levels.

Other factors which would operate to diminish the level of

any exposure include the tendency of droplets to form

fi lm. volatilisation, absorption by foliage,

photodegradation and removal by rain.

Herbicide spray would, soon after settling on foliage,

form droplets . Such droplets may be dislodged from

fo l iage with relative ease. within about ten

mi nutes after they had been deposited the droplets form a

fi lm over the waxy surface of the foliage. Once this film


has formed it cannot be dislodged or removed from the

foliage other than by direct abrasive contact. This

follows from the first of the propositions derived from

the evidence of Dr Crosby, as indicated above.

Colour-coded herbicides principally contained the n-butyl

esters of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T both of which are

1 . 1 289 vo at1 e. There are no known data on the rate of

volatilisation when in the form of droplets or film on

foliage. However, Grover et a 1 290 found that 25\ to 30%

of the emulsion of the butyl ester of 2,4-D volatilised in

the course of spraying. Some continuing volatilisation of

the 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T could be expected from the surface

of the foliage. 291

However, TCDD is of 1 '1' 291 low vo at1 1 ty and, accordingly,

any vapours resulting from volatilisation may rightly be

regarded as unlikely to contain any, or any reasonable

quantity, of TCDD. This conclusion is strongly supported by the results of air sampling at Johnston Island during

. . 292

the course of the d1sposal operat1ons.

As to absorption by foliage, the propositions derived from

Dr Crosby's evidence and numbered (iii) to (vi) inclusive

suggest that after a matter of hours only a small


pr o portion of the initial deposit would remain. That

s ma l l proportion would be expected to require abrasive

actio n for removal · and, even so. the amount of any such

e xposure is unlikely to be anything but minimal.

Both 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T decompose as a result of exposure

to the ultra-violet radiation present in sunlight: Dr

Cros by ; proposition (vii) above. Furthermore, after 6

hour s of full sunlight , TCDD cannot be detected above a

lev el of one part per billion (1 part in 1,000 million):Dr

Cros by ; proposit i on (ix). Of course, as anyone who has

eve r become sunburnt on a cloudy day will verify, the

c r i t i cal factor is not direct sunlight but rather the

ult ra - v i olet energy · contained in sunl i ght. Even a !lowing for a tr i ple canopy forest. such cover would only extend

t he period of photodegradation to 30 hours: experiments on

si milar vegetation suggest not more than two days : Dr

Cr o s by; proposition (xiii).

Although both Agent

insoluble in water,

Orange and


TCDD are virtually

dictates that some

dro p l e t s of the herbicide would be washed from the surface

of t he foliage if rain fell whilst the herbicides remained

1n droplet form on the foliage, i.e. within about ten

mi nu t es of the spray settling. Given the conditions under


which the spraying was carried out and the shortness of

the droplet 1 ife this aspect is unlikely to be of any

significance in a consideration of exposure levels.

A consideration of these factors leads the Commission to

conclude that any indirect exposure resulting from transit

through defoliated areas was significantly less than any

instance of direct exposure. Having regard to the

exposure levels which may be expected to result from

direct exposure (as to which see section 2 Exposure

Models) the Commission finds that no adverse health

effects may be considered to be the product of such

indirect exposure: i.e . physical contact via foliage. As to this conclusion the Commission entertains no doubt.

Mr Walker gave evidence that troops on operations would

get through the foliage "by cutting and by breaking the

foliage. The forward people would have one hand with

secateurs and cut off pieces of {oliage and pull them away

with their hand". 293 Soldiers would clear a place for

themselves to sleep by pulling vegetation or cutting it

and that in high grass areas progress would be made by

soldiers throwing themselves onto the grass to make a

th 293 pa . Even this sort of contact would not result in

a transfer of any TCDD to a soldier, having regard to the


evidence of Dr Crosby, unless it followed virtually

immediately upon the application of herbicide. Such

instances, as a consideration of the HERBS tapes and troop

l ocation data demonstrates, are virtually non- existent .

Even if there were such an instance then, as a

consideration of the various exposure models clearly

i ndicates, no resulting adverse health effects are at all


5.2 Exposure via food

At pages 422 and 423 of the Transcript, Brigadier Rodgers

c onfirmed as accurate the evidence given by him before the

Senate Committee as to the sources of food made available

t o Australian troops in South Vietnam. The Commission

does not propose to detail such evidence in this Report.

It seems clear to the Commission that the majority of

Australian troops spent more than two - thirds of their

t welve month tour of duty on operations in the field. For

e xample, an analysis of the summary of operations of 8 RAR

which appears on page 20 of 'The Grey Eighth in

Vi etnam• 294 in relation to Mr Walker's company. A

Company, reveals that in its twelve month tour of duty it

s pent 235 days in the field not including any periods

s pent by individual platoons on TAOR patrols.


Food sources on operations were primarily the Australian

issue and American issue ration packs. These rations came from sealed containers of food and were clearly not the

subject of any contamination by herbicides. 295

Opportunities for the eating of local food were confi'ned

to the 1 imi ted periods when the troops were at Nui Dat,

during the even more limited periods when they were on

rest and recreation leave at Vung Tau and elsewhere and on the occasions when hot-box meals were taken out by

helicopter during operations. Brigadier Kahn said that,

as Battalion Commander of 5 RAR, he arranged such meals

f 1 f

. bl 296 or mora e purposes as o ten as poss1 e.

In relation to locally grown food, fruit and vegetables

presented no significant risk of contamination by Agent

Orange or like chemicals. Any broad leafed vegetables

sprayed with such chemicals would be destroyed by them.

The process of photodegrada tion would operate to reduce

the amount of TCDD deposited on the surface of fruit to

negligible . 297 proport1ons and other factors, such as

those dealt with in section 5.1 above, must also be

considered. In any

primarily originated

event. fresh fruit and

from within the United

vegetables 298


It would appear that only bananas and lettuce were sourced


f rom wi t·hin the local

298 economy. Bananas, would

necessarily be peeled before being eaten. Meat and eggs

came from the United States.


Milk was reconstituted

and the water content was


local. Bread was also

made at a local bakery at Vung Tau, but little of it was


There was a lot of bread thrown out, an enormous

quantity thrown out. In fact it's true to say

that many units did not want to pick it up. they

had plenty of bread.30l

Br i gadier Rodgers said that he had never heard of

soldiers buying and eating local 302 corn and no

e v i dence was received to the contrary. He said that

" purchase of fish was an occasional thing, maybe

e very two months or so" and that prawns were eaten

"up to once a month, that was the greatest frequency

I have heard".

prawns and



He said that they were salt water

that salt water crabs were not

He also mentioned the "Dalat salad".

a meal of Australian type salad vegetables which

would be purchased in places such as Saigon and the

vegetables for which, he understood, came from Dalat

i n the central highlands of Vietnam. 304

Mi lk involves local water in the reconstitution

process; exposure via water is considered in the next


section. Otherwise; the only food source warranting consideration in the context of the possible exposuie of Austral ian troops is seafood. Eaten on an

occasional basis and, even assuming the levels of

TCDD contamination as reported by Baughman and

Meselson305 in homogenised fish, it is out of the

question that Australian troops could have eaten any

amount approaching even a conservative no - effect

level of TCDD, let alone a toxic dose. Dr Crosby

. . 306 . .

1nd1cated the doubts wh1ch must be enterta1ned

as to the accuracy of the figures reported by

305 Baughman and Meselson. but he expressed the view that, even accepting those figures, a person would

have to eat between one and two kilograms of fish

day each day of their life in order to approach what

he regarded as a conservative no-effect level (NOEL)

of 1 nanogram per kilogram of . h 307 body we1g t. It

is obvious that, even assuming one fish meal per

month, no Australian troops could have remotely

approached such a level.

It would seem that prawns may be in a slightly

different category. Having regard to the fact that

eating prawns in the usual Australian fashion

involves eating the hepatopancreas together with some


. 308 d . .

of the prawn's v1scera an even 1f 1 t be assumed

that prawns contained 10 times the proportion of TCDD

contained in the edible portions of fish (an

assumption not supported by the measurements of


Baughman and Meselson), prawns consumed at the

rate of one meal per month would not present a

prospect of consumption of TCDD at levels approaching

the 1 nanogram per kilogram of body weight per day

NOEL . In any event, it is to be stressed that this

NOEL figure is one established on the basis of daily

consumption for life.

In light of the foregoing, imported foods. bread and

local fruits can be excluded as likely sources of

TCDD. Further, a serviceman would have had to have

eaten an extraordinary and unrealistically large

quantity of contaminated fish (more than 1, 000 grams

per day) in order to reach the NOEL indicated above.

The possibility of this occurring is quite

inconsistent with the evidence given before the

Senate Committee as to the low proportion of locally 309

sourced food consumed by Australian troops.


5.3 Exposure via Water

Having considered the possibility of the exposure of

Australian troops to herbicides generally and TCDD in

particular as a consequence of drinking water which may have been contaminated with such chemicals, the

Senate Report concluded:

While the Committee acknowledges that drinking water supplied to Australian troops was not

monitored for TCDD contamination, it appears

unlikely that any large scale contamination of this water by TCDD took place. There will. of

course, always be the possibility that some

Australian troops may have been exposed to small amounts of TCDD through drinking water while in Vietnam.310

A consideration of the sources of drinking water, the

remoteness of those sources from herbicide spray locations

and the environmental fate of such chemicals relative

(both in respect of possible entry into water and

behaviour when in water) negates any possibility of other

than minute exposure from such a source of Australian

troops whilst in South Vietnam.

Brigadier Rodgers confirmed the accuracy of the evidence

which he had given before the Senate Committee in relation

to the water supply for Australian troops in


. 311

Vt et nam. His submission to the Senate Committee was

f ormally tendered before the Commission as Exhibit 1066.

Br i efly. the Brigadier's evidence before the Senate and

be f o re the Commission was that water supplies at Nui Dat

c ame from a series of wells each of which was within the

c amp perimeter. It was suggested to him that there were

a lso sources outside the camp perimeter but he denied

t h . 312

lS. The water was taken to water points in tanker

t rucks used exclusively for that


purpose. At Vung

Tau, water was tapped by wells sunk into what Brigadier

Ro dgers described as a lens of fresh water overlying the

s alt.314

Th e re was no evidence from which it could be inferred that

ei ther of these water sources could have been contami nated

by Agent Orange from aerial or from ground spraying.

It seems reasonably clear that whilst on operations troops u s ed local streams for the purpose of refilling water

bottles when they were available and water was needed .

(S ee, for example. the evidence of Mr Ducker at p 1262 of

t he Transcript and the evidence of Mr Walker at p 102.)

I n some operational areas. water supplies were short.

Wh e re this was the case, water supplies were carried or


fresh supplies were brought out from the base. (See, for

example, the evidence of Mr Freeman at p 1185, and of

Brigadier Kahn at p 221.) Sometimes water bottles were

refilled on operations by collecting rain water in a

"hoochie". 315 The troops were provided with chlorine

water steri l isation tablets and also detasting

316 tablets . The tablets were not always used 316 and

in any event they were not relevan t to a consideration of

possible exposure to Agent Orange through ingestion of

contaminated water: there is no suggestion that they were

effective otherwise than for destroying bacteria . It

appears that aluminium sulphate or alum was used to

flocculate sediment out of 317 water and in addition the

Millbank F i lter was available to the troops in the field.

This was described as follows by Brigadier Rodgers:

[It] is like a canvas bag with the right size

mesh. so he then hangs it up it has got a

little hook on one side - and pours water in it,

it has got a bevelled bottom thus so the water

comes out from a point, it oozes out like a water

bag and then goes into the water bottle , so that

is the filtration. He does not use alum in the

field, he filters to get the stones sticks and

mud out of it and the cysts of amoebic dysentery

which is what he does it for.318

He also said:

It has got a definite sized pore in the canvas .

That pore is about 8 microns. the size of an

amoebic cyst from the amoebic dysentery germ -

the smallest size is 8 microns.319


Dr Crosby explained the significance of a capacity to

f ilter out objects greater than 8 microns in size:

What is 8

millimetre? millimetre, millimetre .

microns in terms of part of a

A micron is 1/lOOOth of a

so we are dealing with 8/lOOOths of a

If you had a speck of dirt which was 8 microns in

size, you would not see it with the naked eye?

You would not be able to see a single

particle. If you had a cloud of particles of 8

microns you probably would be able to see that

the water was not perfectly clear. . . . It would

be like a dilute milk, for example.320

He went on to explain that commonly airborne dust lay

within the particle size of 10- 100 microns.

Mr Freeman claimed that he had never heard of or been

issued with a Millbank Filter 321 and Mr Ducker said that

it was an impracticable device for use by infantry

soldiers in the circumstances in which they were operating i n Vietnam. 322

It seems clear enough that from time to time Australian

troops on operations may have filled their water bottles

from streams over or near which Agent Orange flights had

taken place at some time previously.


The Commission is satisfied that, even in the absence of

the use of the Mi llbank Filter device, no rea 1 risk was

associated with their drinking that

to the propositions of Dr Crosby

water, having regard

and the evidence of

Exposure models collected in section 2.

In short, where Agent Orange settled on water, both

herbicides and any TCDD component would be subject to

photodegradation during the time the material remained as

a film on the surface. It would be likely to remain on

the surface for some hours in still water. Ultimately,

any remaining TCDD would sink. It is insoluble and would

not form a solution in the water. Any dust or other

organic particles in suspension in the water would attract

molecules of TCDD which would bind firmly to those

particles. These would be progressively diluted by the

matter of the stream.

Photodegradation would continue to occur as the TCDD moved

through clear water up to a depth of 20 feet. Upon

finally reaching the bottom. the TCDD would bind tightly to silt and other organic material at the bottom. It is

highly unlikely that water collected by soldiers would

contain the bottom sediment although this could be

possible in the case of a very shallow stream. However,


the shallower the stream. the greater the


Any TCDD ingested with water. while bound to organic

s ediment, would probably remain bound to the sediment and

be excreted from the body with it.

I t i s extremely unlikely that any TCDD would enter streams

ot herwise than by the spray settling directly on the

s treams. The fact that the TCDD is insoluble. and that it

binds tightly to soil prevents the compound from leaching

t hrough the soi 1. These are consequences of the chemical

proper ties of these chemicals and the behaviour and

e nvironmental fate of them. as dealt with in the evidence

of Dr Crosby.

5.4. Exposure via Soil

I t seems clear enough that Australian troops regularly

came in contact with the ground in the course of

operations and on TAOR patrols. According to Mr Walker,

They were covered in mud. covered in dirt.

certainly after several weeks of operation I

think involuntarily and also voluntarily because the soldiers used mud. for instance. for

camouflage both of their faces and their

clothing. particularly any new clothing that was brought in. and the new supply was usually


smeared with mud immediately. cleared places to sleep each

soldiers slept on ground sheets, the ground.323

They certainly night. usually but sometimes on

He referred also to troops lying on the ground all night

in ambush positions and moving during a contact with the

enemy. by means of a "leopard crawl". 323 It seems

reasonably obvious that most of the matters to which Mr

Walker referred in this regard would have occurred not in

areas exposed to the sk:y and to the surveillance of the

enemy, but .in areas where a protection of overhead forest

canopy existed. In any such areas over which Agent Orange

had been sprayed, the quantity reaching the soil would

have been substantially reduced by the factors already

discussed in this chapter. in particular those dealt with

in section 5.1 dealing with foliage.

Although there appear to be no experimental data available

the quantity of the various components of Agent

Orange might be apportioned between the low growing

foliage on the one hand and the soil or forest floor on

the other, it is clear that the major proportion of any

herbicide penetrating through the upper canopies to the

lower levels would be intercepted by that low growing

foliage before it reached the soil. It follows from the

evidence of Dr Crosby that any herbicide so intercepted by


foli age would not subsequently reach the ground unless it were washed off the foliage by heavy rain or very strong

wind occurring within a matter of minutes of the spray

sett ling on the foliage. Both of these events are

u nl i kely because of the weather criteria applied to the

co nduct of spray missions.

What about the mateiial itself, without any contact by a person or some abrasive agent,

falling off the leaf?----Not much likelihood

at all of it simply falling off although

there is a possibility it could be washed

off by heavy rain in the first several

minutes after it was applied.

I see. That is by the physical action of the

raindrop?--- -The physical action.

But not by being dissolved? - ---That is correct .

What about breeze or wind?----! think it would be

practical to say that there would be no

removal by wind. The material is not in the

presence of droplets that would be able to

move through and rather at this point it is

a thin film that is quite tightly attached

actually to the surface fatty layer.324

Furt her, as Dr Crosby pointed out, TCDD binds tightly to

soil particles by electrostatic process and once so bound to t he soil its availability to be absorbed by any human

. h h . . . d" 325 co n t act Wlt t e so1l 1s "severely restr1cte .

In addition, troops on patrols were substantially

protected by their clothing. It was the practice for


their sleeves to be buttoned down; they wore high boots

which formed a seal with their trousers and operated, in

effect, as built-in gaiters; they wore back packs and, in

open areas, they wore steel helmets and flak

. k 326 ]ac ets. on the other hand, according to Mr Walker,

in the tropical heat some troops unbuttoned the fronts of

their shirts. 323 This is understandable.

The Commission is satisfied that after the first few

minutes of any TCDD coming into contact with the lower

foliage and the soil there was, for all practical

purposes, no real possibility of the transfer of the

herbicide either from the soil or from foliage to the

troops. This was primarily due to the tight binding of

the herbicide to those two media.

A consideration of the troop location data and HERBS tapes

records and the evidence of Dr Crosby enabled the

Commission to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that it was

not possible for Australian personnel to ingest any

chemical agents via soil which were likely to cause

adverse health effects.

The lack of complaint from members of C Company 5 RAR on

22nd August 1969 does nothing to detract from this



I n r espect of all allegations of indirect exposure it is

i mpo r t an t to bear in mind the way in which the chemical is

s u g g ested to have been absorbed: experiments establish

that . f or TCDD, the rate of dermal absorption (i.e.

t hro ugh t he skin) is but 10\ of the rate of oral

. 327

a b s orption (i.e. through the mouth).


Paragraphs (g) and (k) respectively of the Letters Patent

require the Commission to inquire into, inter alia, the

fol lowing matters:

( g) The extent to which adequate safety

precautions were taken and the extent to

which adequate action was taken when any

possible harmful effect of chemical agents became knvwn;

(k) Notwithstanding any limitations contained in paragraph (a), the nature and extent of the

safety precautions taken, during the

disposal at any time by or on behalf of

Australia of surplus chemical agents that

were in Vietnam during the period commencing on 31 July 1962 and ending at the expiration

of 11 January 1973.

Although the history of the Australian involvement in the

Viet nam conflict has been dealt with elsewhere, it is

per t inent to outline the features which are relevant for a

prope r understanding of thi s section of the Report.

IV- 208

Although the military presence of Australian personnel in

Vietnam as early as August 1962 with the

dispatch of

to Vietnam

members of the Australian Army Training Team

(AATTV), the first major deployment of

Australians commenced with the establishment of the First

Battalion. The Royal Australian Regiment, with appropriate support, in June 1965 at Bien Hoa Air Base, north of

Saigon. under the operational control of the US 173

Airborne Brigade (Separate) as its Third Battalion .

Its initial r-ole was to conduct operations in defence of

that base but by December: 1965 the role had been extended

to include operations in the whole of III Corps

conjunction with that Brigade. 1 RAR also

against National Liberation Front (NLF) For-ces

nadrby and long established base area "War ZoneD".

area in


in the

In March 1966 the Australian Government announced an

increase in the Vietnam Force to 4. 500 which would. for

the first time, include National Servicemen. It was

decided to deploy the augmented Australian force into an

oper-ational area where the Army had more tactical

independence and would constitute a more distinctly

Australian "presence" in Vietnam.


An Austral ian Army group led by the Chief of the General

Staff. Lt-Gen. Wilton, decided that Phuoc Tuy province

provided the most favourable location. The Australian

uni t s comprising two Infantry Battalions, with Artillery

and other support units, entered the province in May-June

1 966 and established a base in the centre of the province

at Nui Dat as the first Australian Task Force. 1 ATF

o perated under United States control and a third battalion

was added to it in late 1967.

One of the three battalions (8 RAR) was withdrawn at the

conclusion of its tour on 17 November 1970, leaving a two

battalion Task Force. On 30 March 1971 the new Prime

Mi nister Mr William McMahon (as he then was) announced a

f ur t her graduated withdrawal of one thousand men spread

over the three Services to be effective during the

fo llowing three months.

F inally, on 18 August 1971. the Prime Minister announced

t ha t the bulk of the Australian Forces would be withdrawn

by Christmas 1971 and the remainder, with the exception of

the AATTV. shortly thereafter. The Task Force withdrew

f rom Vietnam between October and early December 1971. the

last Battalion (4 RAR) departing on 8 December 1971. The

last of the logistics support element left Vietnam on 5

IV- 210

March 1972 and the remnants of the AATTV on 18 December


Three phases mark.ed the presence of Australian personnel

in Vietnam. with the notable exception of the outstanding

work. of the AATTV. Briefly, the phases were:

May 1966 - December 1967: most of the Operations were

conducted within Phuoc Tuy province by the 1 ATF. The

Task. Force fought a number of major engagements with

NLF/PAVN (Peoples' Army of Vietnam) Main Force Units

(including the "Battle of Long Tan" when an Australian

company fought an NLF Regiment near Nui Dat in August

1966) and also attempted to combat the NLF's political

structure through a series of "cordon and search"

operations in the villages.

=J-=a::.::n""'u=ca=r.._y_-=1c.:9c..:6=-:8=------=M.:.:a=-yL--=1"""9-=6-=-9 : the Te t Offen s i ve and its

aftermath in which operations outside Phuoc Tuy

province were frequently undertaken against NLF/PAVN

Main Force Units, with a corresponding diminution in

emphasis on Phuoc Tuy.


6 . 1 Instructions

Th e re were in existence various (Australian) Army and Air

Fo r c e instructions/guidelines/operating procedures etc.

fo r t he use, handling, transport, storage, and disposal of

chemical agents which were effective prior to the

establishment of precautions were,

o v e ra l l standing

the l ATF in mid 1966 . Safety

then, in force albeit as part of the

orders appropriate to Australian

p e rsonnel wherever stationed.

On 18 March 1966 Brig. N. A. M. Nicholls, Australian Army

Re presentative, Office of the Military Attache, Australian

Embassy, Washington, forwarded to Army Headquarters in

Canberra a copy of the Draft Proposed Small Development

Re qu i rement for an Interim Defoliant System under the

Aust ralia, Britain, Canada, America (ABCA) Agreement.

Es sent i ally this referred to the Spray Tank Biological.

Ae roplane, 80 gallon, M44 and Defoliant. Appended as Item

1 0 of the submission of the Department of Defence (Exhibit

1151) were the specifications pertaining to this

d e velopment issued on 24 November 1965 by the Headquarters

o f the United States Army Material Command as AMCTC Item

4 0 5 5/1 - 66.

IV- 214

At page 6 of the Draft Proposal. at paragraph 2.c(3) (a)

dealing with the defoliant LNX, it is obvious from the

chemical description that what was being described was

Agent Orange. It was described as "non-toxic to man and

animals under normal use."

The paragraph continues:

The LDso for rats, oral dose is 666 milligrams

per kilogram of body weight for 2. 4. D and 300

milligrams per kilogram of body weight for

2,4,5,T. These materials have been in general

use throughout the U.S. for over 17 years.

General guidance relative to the hazards incident to handling and disseminating 2,4,D and 2,4,5,T is that these substances are considered non-toxic when used as a herbicide under handling

conditions of common agricultural practice by

unskilled personnel.

Various orders and instructions by the Army and RAAF

detail such safety precautions as:

(a) cleaning of equipment after use;

(b) forbidding smoking during handling and spraying;

(c) use of protective equipment, especially oil-resistant

gloves and aprons, goggles and masks (full face) for

spraying operations;

(d) washing and bathing on completion of spraying, or

immediately in the event of skin contamination;


(e) action of contamination of utensils; and

(f) action in the event of illness or other medical


Mili t ary Board Instruction No.

f r o m Army Headquarters deals

12 issued on 1 January 1959

with "Safety Precautions

Spraying with Arsenical Weed Killers or Poison Sprays".

I t requires:

(a) protective clothing to be worn during spraying;

(b) weed killers not to be used from a knapsack spray;

(c) rubber gloves and a rubber or waterproof apron to

be worn when mixing the weed killer and spraying;

(d) immediate discontinuance of work and thorough

washing if the skin is splashed or otherwise

contaminated with weed killer or liquid spray;

(e) thorough washing of hands immediately afterwards

by those who have handled weed killer containers;

(f) thorough washing of hands and a minimum five

minute shower for those who have used the spray;


(g) thorough cleans i ng of

spraying weed killer.


the sprays used for

The further: instruction was that this instruction was to

be "reproduced in Unit Routine Orders every six months".

MBI No. 9, issued on 1 January 1961. deals with safety

precautions for chemicals and insecticides. It replaced.

but substantially reproduced. MBI 117/1958. It made a

general observation:

Most chemicals used in pest control are poisonous in some degree to man. Poisoning may occur by

swallowing or inhaling these substances or in

some cases through contact with the skin".

It required:

(a) pest control materials to be kept in their

labelled containers;

(b) storage under lock and key;

(c) available only to persons trained in their use;

(d) stored apart from foodstuffs and food containers;

(e) products containing DDT. BHC (Benzene

Hexachloride) and Dieldrin not to be used near

food or utensils;

(f) contaminated food to be destroyed;

(g) contaminated utensils to be cleansed with steam

or boiling water;


(h) a masK covering nose and mouth to be worn during

dry mixing;

(i) respirators, protective clothing and gloves to be worn during use;

(j) a shower of five minutes duration after use.

The Mi litary Board Instruction current at the commencement

o f Australian involvement in Vietnam and continuing for at

least four years thereafter are those contained in MBI

2 30 - l (1 September 1962) entitled "Safety Precaution:

Chemicals , Insecticides, Weed Killers and Poison Sprays".

Th i s document contained elaborate warnings and

i nstructions as to use. The Commission does not deem it

necessary to set it out in full. Suffice it to say that,

i f followed, they would maKe the use of the chemical

agents safe.

In February, 1967 HQ ATFV requested a defoliation

. d 329

herbic i de for use 1n an around base areas.

He r bic i de DSL defoliant 21 was supplied with instructions

t hat "for reasons of safety these instructions must be

strictly followed . The instructions were :

IV- 218


1. Shake the concentrate.

2. Add one pint of concentrate to a knapsack

sprayer and fill with water. 3. Shake the knapsack sprayer.

4. Spray foliage lightly. One knapsack spray

should cover an area of at least 200 square



1. Use gloves, mask and eye shield when

handling and mixing the solution. 2. Use mask and eye shield when spraying.

3. If any concentrate is spilled on the skin,

wash off immediately with water. 4. Bathe after spraying.

These instructions were sufficient when combined with the

Standing Orders.

A telex message from A.F.V. to the Department of the Army

Canberra on or about 31 October 1967 in discussing

herbicide requirements stated:

Herbicides should be non-toxic when ingested in moderate quantities

operators should not have to take

safety precautions when using the

(emphasis added).

inhaled or Spray elaborate herbicide.

There were three sets of instructions which applied to the

handling of chemicals in Vietnam during the Australian

presence there. They were paragraphs 939-946 in the

Manual of Army Safety (Provisional) 1967. the "Instruction


for Spraying Herbicides, 1 ATF" issued as a result of the

Holt/Lugg trials, and the instructions entitled

"Instructions for Spraying Herbicide Hyvar X- WS" issued on 26 July 1969 for ALSG, Vung Tau.

These instructions, if followed, provided a safe and

adequate basis for usage.

Manual of Army Safety, 1970

This updated the earlier instructions and placed somewhat

more emphasis upon the dangers of the chemicals. This

t rend was also noticed in the document "General Nuclear

Biological Chemical . 330 h Instructions", paragrap 6 of

which refers specifically to side effects including

systemic poisoning from absorption, inhalation or


Current Instructions

The most recent instructions in respect of pesticides are

those contained in the Australian Joint Service

Publication, Pesticides Manual - JSP (AS) 705 issued for

use by the Australian Defence Force in August 1983 and

effective forthwith. It supersedes all other instructions.


These instructions emphasise that "[t]here are no

absolutely safe insecticides; all are capable of causing damage to body functions if absorbed in sufficient


The chapters that

protective signs and


clothing, symptoms


follow deal with personal safety and

storage and disposal of pesticides,

of poisoning and definitive medical

is emphasis upon training and

supervision, careful adherence to personal precautions and

protective clothing.

These instructions, which

compounds. provide safe and

light of current knowledge.

Personnel Engaged in Spraying

are specific to particular

adequate protection in the

Approximately 100 Vietnamese operators were engaged in

full time wor::k at Vung Tau spraying the base at 1 ALSG

with insecticides. The base was cold fogged with a

misting device by the operators working for Pacific

Architects and Engineers, a corporation contracting to the

US Military.


The role of No. 9 Helicopter Squadron in the spraying of

herbicides and insecticides has been referred to. Both at

Nui Dat and at 1 ALSG technical assistance and supervision

i n the spraying of herbicides was the responsibility of

t he Hygiene Officer 1 ATF and the Hygiene Inspector

respectively. Brig. General Rodgers in his 331 statement refers to the use of certain insecticides, for example

Di eldr i n, under the "auspices" of the Hygiene Officer

(page 15, paragraph 43 (c)) or to appropriate instruction

given to "specialist hygiene personnel as part of their

routine trade training" (page 16, paragraph 46) . At page

17 (paragraph 48) Brigadier Rodgers states:


So far as I am aware all the spraying operations

were done under the supervision of a trained NCO who was familiar with the methods of dilution,

dispersal and personal protection.

Royal Australian Engineers also were given

responsibilities in respect of herbicidal operations. As stated in a minute dated 1 October 1971 from the DMO & P

the i r responsibility in herbicidal operations closely

paralleled those which they had in mine warfare. They

were therefore considered to be responsible for (a) advice

to commanders, their staff and units on herbicidal

operations; (b) conduct of herbicidal tasks beyond the

capabil i ty of units; (c) advice to the RAAF on aerial


deli very of herbicides; use of herbicides and


(d) training of personnel in the

equipment including safety aspects

That minute further went on to state the responsibility of

"units" as being in ... "(a) the use of herbicides on

domestic tasks within their capability .... ".

In March 1969 each Infantry Battalion of the Regiment was

instructed to "detach one soldier to HQ Coy l ATF" to

carry out a defoliation program of the perimeter wire,

ammunition dump surrounds, radio aerial complexes and any

other sites "which may present a fire hazard during the

following dry season". During the period of their

detachment the four soldiers provided were to be under the

direct control of l ATF Hygiene Officer. Because of the

toxicity of the chemicals used and the rigid safety

precautions to be observed the soldiers provided had to be

"intelligent types" and the personnel provided were to

remain unchanged

program but, if

changed more



throughout the entire

this was not possible,

frequently than "once


period of the

were not to be

every three

Tt is also notable that a request for units to be supplied

with Hyvar X-ws for herbicidal operations, with the units

responsible for spraying being under the technical

supervision and control of the Hygiene Inspector 1 ALSG

was refused. Any defoliation program had to include

control by the Headquarters 1 ALSG "using a properly

supervised, organised and equipped spraying team" (cited

i n Telex message from Headquarters AFV to One ALSG and a

332 copy 1 ATF- July 1969).

This instruction appears subsequently to have been

modified in that by order dated 17 September 1969

headquarters 1 ALSG devised a program for the clearing of

all foliage from the perimeter wire at ALSG by the use of

a defoliant spray.

Uni t s having a res pons ibi li ty for the maintenance of a

section of the perimeter wire were also to be responsible

for the clearance of that section of wire. The Hygiene

Inspector 1 ALSG was to provide respirators and rubber

gloves and to determine the quantity of Hyvar required .

6.2 Observance

Bo t h Mr Rhodes and Mr Nunn stated that the instructions as

to clothing were strictly enforced. Those who had


attended the School of Army Health were conscious of the

potential health hazards and "rigidly enforced" the

protective clothing . 333 requ1rements. However, Mr Nunn also stated that the respirators and protective clothing were not used extensively. The reasons were varied.

Obviously the oppressive weather conditions must have been

a major factor.

In addition, his team were doing a large volume of work

with materials and "did not find it possible to use

protective clothing" as would be perhaps the case with a

small job. Clothing also varied with the nature of the

task being performed. For thermal fogging protective

clothing was not terribly important in that a pair of

shorts and a shirt and boots would suffice. For wet

spraying full jungle greens, full trousers. and long

sleeve shirt. were required.

However, Mr Nunn recalls that it was very difficult to

control, in the sense of enforce. those requirements. He

recalled one incident in 1970 where he had to charge a

corporal who refused to wear long clothing while wet

spraying. The attitude was that, notwithstanding their

training at the School of Army Health, one did not have to

worry about chemicals.


During informal hearings throughout Australia the

Commission heard of a number of instances, anecdotally, of

a flouting of regulations as to protective clothing,

particularly in the use of respirators. goggles or masks, rubber gloves and long-sleeved shirts and trousers. It is

possible that those who were charged with the task of

handl i ng or spraying the chemical agents were heedless of

any toxic potential. It is also possible that the

application of the sprays, particularly by the use of back

packs, militated against the wearing of full jungle dress.

A further factor is that there were insufficient numbers

of trained personnel in the hygiene detachment.

Pe r sonnel from other units performed hygiene duties and

ins t ructions may not have been adequately promulgated or

enforced amongst these personnel.

As well. operational exigencies may have precluded strict

observance of safety standards. As has been indicated

earlier, the success of the prophylactic program and the

conspicuous lack of toxic reactions in Vietnam point to a

h i gh standard of military discipline in relation both to

performance of hygiene duties and adherence to adequate

safety standards.



7.1 Disposal of the 'colour coded' herbicides

As at September. 1971 there were 1. 37m gallons (US) of

Agent Orange in South Vietnam and o. 85 m gallons (US) at

the Naval Construction Battalion Center at Gulfport.

M . . . . 334

lSSlSSlppl. The former stocks were transported to

Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean in April, 1972 for

storage. Several possible disposal techniques were

investigated and, following public hearings of the US

Environment Protection Agency (EPA). a permit was granted

on 7 April, 1977 to enable incineration at sea in a

designated location. west of Johnston Island. in the North

Pacific Ocean.

A total of three loadings of the vessel 'MIT Vulcanus'

were required: one from Gulfport and two from Johnston

Island. At both sites the herbicide was transferred from

the drums to the Vulcanus. The drums were rinsed with

diesel fuel (later added to the cargo of the Vulcanus) and

then crushed. A total of 15.480 drums of herbicide were

processed at Gulfport from 24 May to 10 June 1977. At

Johnston Island, between 27 July and 23 August 1977. a

total of 24,795 drums were emptied.


7.2 Disposal of surplus Australian herbicides

The Australian authorities decided to return its stocks of

herbicide to Australia, 2,800 lbs of Hyvar and 2,115

gallons of Reglone were returned by sea in February, 1972.

According to the Army Report:

No evidence was found as to in-theatre disposal

of herbicides. Indeed the stock figures suggest

that some herbicide in Nui Dat was returned to

theatre stocks in Vung Tau. There is no record

of HQ l ATF or of units in HQ 1 ATF issuing

orders for the destruction or reporting the

destruction of herbicide in Nui Dat in 1971 or


An Army minute dated 15 April 1972 on "Disposal of

Operational S k f b .. d 336 d h toe s o Her 1c1 es" propose t at there be transferred to the Engineers a quantity of Bromacil

(Hyvar). The remainder of the serviceable stocks were to

be sold through the Department of Supply and the

unserviceable stocks were to be disposed of by letting a

contract for their removal and destruction.

On 29 August 1972 a minute to the Engineers from the

Operations Colonel instructed them to arrange for the

retention of the following stocks of herbicides from

operational stocks: Diquat 54 gallons, Bromacil 9,900 lbs,

Paraquat 36 gallons, Picloram 18 gallons.


These amounts represented an estimated 3 years stock at

the annual usage rates for commands. The remaining

holdings of these herbicides were disposed of through the

Department of Supply in accordance with normal procedures.

No stocks of paraquat are shown to exist as at that time.

The Commission concludes that unused stocks were returned

and disposed of by use or sale if se.i:vt·ceable and by

destruction if unserviceable.

7.3 Insecticides

Unused stocks of insecticides in Vietnam were disposed of


(a) returning stocks of US origin to US Forces;

(c) gift to the Vietnamese as part of the Gift Stores

Program; or

(d) treatment of stores and equipment being returned

to Australia.

The Army Report indicates:

No recor-d

destroyed or was found

dumped in

of insecticides [South Vietnam).


being nor of


any instructions pertaining to destruction or


Commission finds that the arrangements for the

d i sposal of herbicides and insecticides were appropriate.

7 . 4 Lack of VVAA Contribution

The VVAA had substantial input into the Terms of Reference

f o r this I nquiry. None of its three submissions touched

upon safety precautions, remedial action or disposal. The

l a c k of any such submission left the Commission 1 in the

dark 1 as to the reasons for the inclusions of paragraphs

( g) and (k) of the Terms of Reference. The only

inferences which may be drawn from this silence are either

that these topics were not seriously in contention or that no evidence was available to support submissions it might

have wished to make in these areas. In the circumstances

the Commission must conclude that the VVAA position is

that no harm came to veterans as a result of any

def i ciencies in safety precautions, remed i al action or

d i sposal methods.

Tropi cal use of insecticide was commonplace for the

Australian Army although herbicides were a comparative novelty. With the benefit of hindsight and awareness of


the environmental/ecological debate of the 1970s and 1980s

it would be easy to criticise the Army for adopting or

imparting what might now be called by some inappropriate

acceptance of possible risks. The Commission makes no

such criticism and observes that the herbicides used were

in common use, not only in Australia but throughout the

world. The Holt/Lugg trials were an appropriate testing

procedure and the safety precautions adopted as a result

of them quite adequate.

Of necessity, the Army delegated much of the day-to-day

responsibility for the observance of safety regulations to non- commissioned officers and even to soldiers relatively

unskilled and untrained. Those who had attended the

School of Army Health were seized of the importance of the

use of protective clothing. It is understandable that the

oppressive weather conditions contributed to widespread

failure to observe Standing Orders, particularly in view of the lack of concern about these well-known and widely

used commercial products.

There is insufficient evidence to form any conclusions as

to the adequacy of instructions promulgated by. or

equipment used in, the RAAF.


Regulations requiring "immediate" washing of hands or

other parts of the body on which chemicals had been

spilled, or for changes of clothing under operational

conditions in a theatre of conflict would most likely have

been unable to be obeyed but as most chemical used by

Australian personnel in Vietnam took place in the

comparative calm of Nui Dat and Vung Tau. the regulation

probably could have been enforced. 338 Report concludes:

But as the Senate

there is no doubt that comprehensive

instructions were issued on the precautions to be taken in relation to the use of pesticides. It

was clearly recognised by the Army that some risk was associated with the use of herbicides and

insecticides and precautions had to be taken.

However it is equally clear from the evidence

provided by VVAA that in practice, these

precautions were not always implemented. In

retrospect, this should not be considered unusual in a situation where the substances being sprayed were not regarded as harmful, the safety

equipment was hot and uncomfortable, the

personnel hygiene requirements could not always he adhered to, and the personnel involved were

not always properly trained ...

The Commission respectfully agrees.



8.1 Insecticides

In respect of insecticides the Commission's findings as to

the likelihood of exposures of Australian personnel are

summarised in Table 23. reproduced below as Table 27 for

the sake of convenience.

As indicated earlier, in respect of insecticides, the

category 'low' is used to include not exposed: it should

not be assumed that. in categorising exposure as low, the

Commission is finding that there was exposure.

It must also be remembered that mere exposure is not

indicative of effects: the

the likelihood

question of

of resulting adverse health

dose and the available

toxicological information must also be considered.



Diethyl toluamide Dibutyl phthalate Aerosol cans Malathion

Diazinon Lindane Chlordane Dieldrin DDT Pyrethrins

8 . 2 . Herbicides

Period of use

? - 1971

? - 1971

? - 1971

1965 - 71

? - 1971

?,1969 -? - 1970

? - 1971

1965 - 71

? - 1971


Likelihood of Exposure Applicators Base Other

Personnel Soldiers

high high high

high high high

high high medium

high high medium

high medium low

71 high medium low

high medium low

high medium low

high medium low

high medium low

Table 28 sets out the likelihood of exposures of

Australian personnel to herbicides during relevant periods

of the service in Vietnam.

IV- 234


Herbicide Period

of use

Likelihood of Exposure Applicators Base Other

Personnel Soldiers

2,4,5-T 1966-1977/8 low low low 2,4-D 1966-1971 low low low TCDD 1966-1971 low low low Pic lor am 1968-1971 low low low Diquat 1968-1971 high medium low Paraquat 1967-? low low low Bromacil 1968-1971 high medium low Borate Chlorate 1966-1967 high medium low Distillate/kerosene 1966-1971 high medium low Creosote 1966-1967 high medium low 8.3. Pesticides Generally The Senate Committee concluded in respect of the issue of exposure as follows: The Committee concludes that it is unlikely that the majority of Australian troops were directly or indirectly exposed to the herbicides used by U.S. forces. namely Agent Orange and other compounds containing the phenoxy herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. The Committee believes, however, that direct exposure to insecticides (such as malathion) which were used to control malaria, was probable in the majority of cases. In addition, exposure to one or more anti-malarial drugs was routine. It is also accepted that all Vietnam veterans would have been exposed to harmful chemicals, including potentially mutagenic and carcinogenic chemicals, during that part of their lives spent outside Vietnam. The question which arises from all this is: what additional burden of exposure to potential mutagens and carcinogens is likely to have been associated with a typical period of IV-235

one year's service in Vietnam? This question

cannot be easily answered, except by stating that there would have been a finite additional burden of exposure which, when viewed in the context of

likely exposure patterns to potentially harmful chemicals of individuals prior to Vietnam

service, and also subsequent to that service, is

likely to be relatively small.339

The Commission respectfully agrees with such conclusions

generally and in particular that the "additional burden"

referred to "is likely to be relatively small.".

Further, the Commission finds that the exposure levels of

Australian servicemen in Vietnam generally were not

greater than that of their American counterparts, Ranch

Hand personnel especially excepted. There can be no doubt

that Ranch Hand personnel experienced the greatest level

of exposure amongst American servicemen in Vietnam. The

evidence of Messrs Hubbs and Dudenhoeffer provides but one

basis for this proposition. Further grounds for this

conclusion derive from all the relevant, credible and

available literature in respect of Operation Ranch Hand;

the slides, film and like visual material. not to mention

commonsense. A number of American studies have proceeded

on this assumption to study the health or well-being of

those directly involved in the Ranch Hand program.

The Commission i.s satisfied that those involved in the

Ranch Hand operations were the most exposed military group


to have served in Vietnam. On the basis of all the

evidence before the Commission the conclusion that they

were at least one thousand (1.000) times more exposed is


On consideration of all the relevant evidence the

Commission is satisfied that, adopting the criterion of

being within

flight path, half a kilometre either side of a spray

the only Australian personnel who may be

presumed to be directly exposed are those servicemen who

were serving on the relevant dates in the units as

indicated in Table 24.

In respect of indirect exposure the Commission is

satisfied that, whilst the likelihood of some such

exposure may be high, a consideration of the likely dose

level reveals beyond any doubt that such exposure or

exposures may be safely ignored for the purpose of

considering whether resulting adverse health effects may

have arisen.

Even if there were instances of direct exposure not

adverted to above and even if there were repeated indirect

exposure incidents of the kind referred to in this chapter

then such instances would not be such as to alter any of

the Commission's conclusions.


It is important to realise that these conclusions result, at least in part, from a consideration of the available

toxicological information which has been converted to a more readily understandable form by means of exposure

models. Later chapters in this Report deal with the

scientific evidence which bears on issues such as

toxicology and both the type of health effects which may

be associated with exposure to relevant chemical agents

and the likelihood of adverse health effects persisting

following such exposure.


In respect of the issues arising from the relevant safety

precautions and their observance the Commission makes the

following recommendations:

1. The overlap between Engineers Corps and the Hygiene

Coy as to ordering, acquisition, storage, handling,

mixing, dissemination and destruction of herbicides

and insecticides should cease. One corps should have

the total responsibility for these tasks and the

records thereof.


2. Members of that corps should have thorough training in

the use . of chemical agents and. in particular. any

toxic risks thereof.

3. Each unit of that corps should be adequately manned to

ensure that all hygiene functions are performed by the

trained personnel.

4. A Manual of Instructions appropriate to the Australian

Defence Forces should be maintained in consultation

with all relevant authorities and experts. including

but not limited to Standards Laboratories. NH & MRC.

Federal and State Health Departments and chemical


5. Proper inventory controls should be maintained.



1. Young, A. L., 'The Toxicology, Environmental

Fate, and Human Risk of Herbicide Orange and its

Associated Dioxin', USAF Occupational and

Environmental Health Laboratory Technical Report, No TR-78-92, Brookes Air Force Base, October,


2. Craig, D.A.: "Use of Herbicides

Asia, Historical Report". San

Logistics Center, Directorate

Management, Kelly AFB, Texas 1975.

in Southeast Antonia Air

of Energy

3. Committee on the Effect of Herbicides in South

Vietnam, Part A. Summary and Conclusions.

National Academy of Science, Washington D.C.

1974. (Exhibit 903) Table III C-1.

4. Westing, A.H. Ecological consequences of the

second Indochina War. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (1976) Table 3.3.

5. Exhibit 906, p I-ll.

6. MACV Directive No. 525-l. 12 August, 1969 quoted

in Exhibit 903 at pp 11-6 and 7.

7. Exhibit 906, p 1-18 & 1-19.

8. MACV Directive No. 525-l. 12 August.

considered in Exhibit 89, pp 3-8 and 9.


9. Exhibit 892, pp 3-9 and 10 quoting CG II FFV

Message AVFBC-FM 010411 of 3112152 January 1971 as contained in File: IATF 890/5/6(1).

10. Exhibit 892, pp 3- 10 and ll quoting COMUSMACV

Message 46/71 (J3) of 3007492 Jun 71 as contained on File: IATF 890/5/612).

11. Exhibit 903, p 11-3.

12. Exhibit 906, p I-14.

13. Ibid, p 1-15.

14. Ibid, pp 1-15-1-18.

15. See also, Exhibit 906, Ch II.


16. Exhibit 906, p I - 21.

17 . Exhibit 906, p I-31.

18. Exhibit 894. p 1-2.

19 . Exhibit 903, p III-39.

20. Exhibit 894, p 1-2 .

21. Submission by Dow Chemical (Australia) Ltd,

Commission file SC83/177 folio 24.

22. Exhibit 1288, p 29.

23. Exhibit 894, p 3- 71.

24. Exhibit 894. p 3-70.

25. Exhibit 1288, p 28.

26. Exhibit 1288, p 27.

27. Exhibit 892, Annexure M to Ch l, p 3- 1 - M-1.

28 . Ibid, p 3 - 54.

29. Exhibit 8. p l.

30. Exhibit 1288, p 28.

31. Exhibit 892, pp 3-54 and 3 - 55.

32. Ibid, p 3-56.

33. Ibid, p 3-58.

34. Exhibit 1061, Table l.

35. Exhibit 892, p 3-70.

36. Exhibit 1288, p 29.

37 . Exhibit 1105, p 6 (Exhibit 99 is a copy of

Exhibit 1105).

38. Ibid, p 15.

39. Ibid, pp 21-22.

IV- 241

Exhibit 892, p 3-70.

Ibid, p 3-71.

Exhibit 892, pp 3-62 - 3-63.

Exhibit 1288, p 26.

Exhibit 1061.

Exhibit 1105. p 15.

Ibid, p 6.

Exhibit 892. p 3-60.

Exhibit 1105. p 14 & p 22.

Exhibit 1288, p 28.

Transcript p 673.

Transcript pp 683 - 685. Transcript p 1414.

Transcript p 1415 & p 1443.

Transcript p 1415.

Transcript pp 1419 - 1420.

Transcript p 1483.


65. Transcript pp 1430 - 1432.

66. Exhibit 892.

67. Supra. p 56.

68. Exhibit 892. p 3- 50. para 47.

69. Transcript p 1487.

70. Transcript pp 1620 - 1621.

71. Transcript p 1638.

72. Transcript p 1633.

73. Exhibit 892.

74. Transcript p 1620.

75. Transcript p 1649.

76. Transcript pp 1672 - 1674.

77. Exhibit 1061. p 2.

78. Exhibit 1105. p 16.

79. Exhibit 1448. p 17.

80. Exhibit 903 ..

81. Ibid. p VII-2.

82. Exhibit 892. p 3-130.

83. Senate Standing Committee on Science and the

Environment Enquiry into Pesticides Hansard. p 16.

84. Exhibit 892. p 3-129.

85. Exhibit 895. p 124.

86. Exhibit 1448. p 24.

87. Exhibit 892. p 3-122.

88. Ibid. p 3-134.


89. Exhibit 1448, p 20.

90. Ibid, Annexures A and B to Ch 2.

91. Ibid, pp 3-131 and 3-132.

92. Ibid p 3-139.

93. Exhibit 1448, p 18.

94. Ibid p 3-140.

95. Ibid pp 3-138 and 3-139.

96. Ibid p 3-136.

97. Ibid p 3-137.

98. Exhibit 1062 p 7.

99. Ibid pp 12-16 and 18-19.

100. House of Representatives 15 May 1980 Hansard p


101. Exhibit 1288.

102. Ibid p 30.

103. Exhibit 1062, p 8; Transcript p 329.

104. Transcript p 261.

105. Exhibit 1062.

106. Exhibit 1210.

107. Transcript p 2159.

108. Exhibit 1210, Appendix 2.

109. Transcript p 2160.

110. Transcript, p 2374.

111. Exhibit 1198, p 7.

112. Transcript, p 1982.







118. 119.



122. 123.


Transcript, p 1993. Transcript, pp 1993 - 4.

Transcript, p 1995. Transcript, p 2747.

Exhibits 114. 115, 116 & 286.

Transcript, pp 2751 - 2.

Transcript, p 2752. Transcript, p 2786.

Exhibit 906, pp I - 18 (3 gallons/acre) & I - 31

(4.21 1bs/gallon for 2,4-D; 4.41 lbs/gallon for 2,4,5-T).

Exhibit 906, pp I-5 & I-14.

The Merck Index, lOth edn, p 1067, para 7280

Quantification of applicator exposure in the Field, Scientific Dispute

Conference on 2, 4, 5 - T, Washington DC, 1979.

of 2 , 4,5 - T

Resolution June 4-6,

125. Exposure measurements of applicators spraying

(2,4,5- trichlorophenoxy)acetic acid in the

forest, J. Agric. Food Chern. l980(a);28: 626 - 630. 126. Gehring, P. J. et al. The fate of

2,4,5-trichlorophenoxy- acetic acid

(2,4,5-T)following oral administration to man, Toxicol . Appl. Pharmacol., 1973:26:352- 361.

127. Kohli, J. D. et al, Absorption and excretion of

2, 4, 5-trichlorophenoxy acetic acid in man, Arch. Int Pharmacodyn 1974;210:250-255.

128. Acute human exposure to TCDD in Seveso, Italy, J.

Toxicol . Environ. Health, 1980(a);6: 27-43 .

129. Carter, C. D. et a l , Tetrachlorodibenzo- dioxin:

an accident poisoning episode in horse arenas,

Science 1975;1888:738 - 740.

IV- 245

130. Reggiani, G, Medical problems raised

contamination in Seveso, Italy, J.

Environ. Health, 1980(a);6: pp 27-43; Exhibit 1255.

by TCDD Toxicol. see also

131. Rowe, V. K .• Direct testimony before the US

Environmenta 1 Protect ion Agency, FIFRA Docket No 415, 13 November, 1980.

132. Exhibit 903, p II I-32.

133. Exhibit 1448, p 34.

134. Exhibit 1037, p 27 et seq.

135. Ibid, p 28.

136. Transcript, pp 1399 - 1412.

137. Transcript, p 893.

138. Transcript, p 896.

139. Transcript, p 919.

140. Transcript, p 920.

141. Transcript, p 911.

142. Transcript, p 926.

143. Exhibit 1121, para 3.

144. Transcript, p 991.

145. Transcript, pp 924 & 991.

146. Transcript, p 122.

147. Transcript, p 125.

148. Transcript, p 193.

149. Transcript, p 194.

150. Transcript, p 1258.

151. Transcript, p 1361.

152. Basic 2 Volume. Exhibit 1068, p 8 of Attachment E.


153. Exhibit 906. p I-15.

154. Transcript. p 915.

155. Exhibit 1101.

156. Transcript. p 1243.

157. Transcript. p 1357.

158. Transcript. p 719.

159. Exhibit 1137. Log Sheets of G(Ops) - HQ 1 ATF

(MAIN). sheet 154. dated 22 August. 1969.

160. Transcript pp 1240 - 1398.

161. File SC84/286.

162. Transcript pp 1242 - 1243.

163. Transcript p 1357.

164. Transcript p 1243.

165. Exhibits 1137. 1139. 1140 and 1141.

166. Exhibit 1146A.

167. Transcript p 1249.

168. Transcript p 1214.

169. Exhibit 892. p 3-49.

170. Exhibit 897.

171. Transcript p 1227.

172. Transcript p 1228.

173. Transcript p 1229.

174. Transcript p 1234.

175. Exhibit 1162.

176. Transcript p 1415.

177. Transcript p 1418.


178. Trancript p 1480.

179. Transcript p 1421.

180. Transcript p 1483.

181. Transcript p 1430.

182. Transcript p 1432.

183. Transcript pp 1421 - 1425.

184. Transcript p 1426.

185. Transcript p 1427.

186. Exhibit 892, p 3-50, para 47.

187. But see Exhibit 1158, p 30, fig 4 and Ch VI.

188. Exhibit 1153.

189. Transcript p 1496.

190. Transcript p 1510.

191. Transcript p 1501.

192. Transcript p 1506.

193. Transcript p 1509.

194. File SC84/628.

195. Transcript p 365-6.

196. Transcript p 367.

197. Transcript p 822.

198. Transcript p 1041.

199. Transcript p 1055.

200. Transcript p 1072.

201. Transcript pp 1121 - 1123.

202. Transcript p 1121.


203. Transcript p 1045.

204. Trasncript pp 1046 & 1125.

205. Transcript p 1140.

206. Transcript p 1083.

207. Transcript p 1084.

208. Transcript p 1086.

209. Transcript p 1087.

210. Transcript p 1088.

211. Transcript p 1089.

212. Transcript p 1088a.

213. Transcript p 1113.

214. Transcript p 1155.

215. Transcript p 1157.

216. Transcript p 1177.

217. Transcript p 1179.

218. Transcript p 1180.

219. Transcript pp 1181 - 1182.

220. Transcript p 1182.

221. Transcript p 1183.

222. Transcript p 1203.

223. Transcript p 1206.

224. Transcript p 1208.

225. Transcript p 1210.

226 . Transcript p 1211.

227. Transcript p 1212.









235 .




239. 240.




Exhibit 892.

Transcript p 688.

Transcript p 3998. Transcript p 4018.

Transcript p 1627.

Transcript p 1629.

Transcript p 1639.

Transcript p 1668.

Transcript p 1652.

Exhibit 1151.

Exhibit 892, p 3-69.

Transcript pp 425 - 426.

Exhibits 8, 1061 & 1105.

Transcript p 1422.

Transcript pp 683 - 685.

Exhibit 1061, Technical Note 117 of the

Department of Supply, Austral ian Defence

Scientific Service, Defence Standards Laboratory, June 1968.

244. Exhibit 1105 (a copy of the same report became

Exhibit 99).

245. House of Representatives Hansard, p 1311.

246. Exhibit 1105, p 5, para 19.

247. Ibid, p 7, para 27.

246. Ibid, p 9, para 31.

249. Ibid, pp 26-27.

250. Exhibit 1062.

251. Exhibit 1105, p 11.


252. Ibid. p 12.

253. Ibid. p 15.

254. Ibid. p 16.

255. Ibid p 17.

256. Ibid. Annexure c. pp 33-60.

257. Ibid. pp 34-35.

258. Ibid. p 47.

259. Ibid. pp 50-54.

260. Ibid. pp 55-56.

261. Ibid p 57.

262. Ibid. p 58-59.

263. Ibid. p 60.

264. Exhibit 1063.

265. Exhibits 8. 1061 and 1105.

266 . Exhibit 892. p 3-64.

267. Transcript pp 755-756.

268 . Transcript p 757.

269. Transcript p 758.

270. Transcript pp 767-769.

271. Transcript pp 770-773.

272. Transcript p 774.

273. Transcript p 776.

274. Transcript p 777.

275. Transcript pp 780-781.


276. Transcript p 784.

277. Transcript p 816.

278. Transcript p 785.

279. Transcript p 789 .

280 . Transcript pp 785-786.

281. Transcript p 787.

282. Transcript p 788.

283. Transcript p 798.

284. Transcript pp 799-800.

285. Transcript p 801.

286. Transcript pp 806-807.

287 . Transcript p 808.

288. Transcript p 815 .

289. Exhibit 906, p I II - 2.

290. Grover, R. et al. 'Droplet and Vapour Driftfrom

Butyl Ester and Dimethylamine Salt of 2,4-D':

Weed Science, vol 20; issue 4, pp 320 - 324.

291. Crosby, D. c. & Wong, A. S. 'Environmental

Degradation of TCDD ' : Science 195 (4284) pp 1337 - 1338.

292. Exhibit 906, Chap 2, Tables 1-4, 6 & 7.

293. Transcript p 101.

294. Exhibit 1055.

295. Transcript pp 271 - 272; evidence of Brigadier


296. Transcript p 219.

297. Transcript p 801; evidence of Dr Crosby.

298. Transcript p 438; evidence of Mr Manning.


299. Transcript pp 438 - 440.

300. Transcript pp 439 - 400.

301. Transcript p 441.

302. Transcript p 426.

303 . Transcript p 427.

304. Transcript p 428.

305. Baughman, R.W. & Meselson, M.S. 'An analytical

method for detecting TCDD (dioxin): Levels of

TCDD samples from Vietnam' Environ. Health

Perspect., 1973;5: 27 - 35. 306. Transcript pp 813 - 814.

307. Transcript p 815.

308. Transcript p 820.

309. Exhibit 1448, p 64.

310 . Exhibit 1443, p 60.

311. Transcript p 422.

312. Transcript pp 369 370.

313. Transcript p 368.

314. Transcript pp 267 - 269.

315 . Transcript p 433.

316. Transcript p 103.

317. Transcript p 352 .

318. Transcript p 353.

319. Transcript p 414.

320. Transcript pp 792 - 793.

321. Transcript p 1173.


322. Transcript p 1264.

323. Transcript p 100.

324. Transcript p 756.

325. Transcript pp 799 - 800.

326. Transcript pp 135 - 137.

327. Exhibit 1211.

328. Much of the foregoing is taken from Frank Frost

"Australia 1 s War in Vietnam 1962-1972" in Peter King (Ed.) Australia 1 s Vietnam: Australia in the Second Indo-China War George Allen & Unwin,

Sydney, 1983, at pp 65-66.

329. Exhibit 1151' Annexure A, Item 12.

330. HQ ATFV R883 - 1-5, dated October, 1970.

331. Exhibit 1062.

332. Exhibit 1151, Item 6' Annexure A.

333 . Evidence of L.R. Nunn at transcript p 699.

334 . Exhibit 906, p II-1.

335. Exhibit 892, Ch 1, Part 5' Section, para 24.

336. Exhibit 1151, Annexure A, Item 8.

337. Exhibit 892, p 3-135.

338. Exhibit 1448.

339. Ibid, p 202.





Report prepared for


17 February, 1984

J.A. Richards 1 and S.J. Dovey 2

1. Centre for Remote Sensing, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2033

2. Australian Landsat Station, Department of Resources and Energy, Belconnen, ACT 2616


(See p IV-119)




Report prepared for


17 February, 1984

J.A. Richards 1 and S.J. Dovey 2

1. Centre for Remote Sensing, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2033

2. Australian Landsat Station, Department of Resources and Energy, Belconnen, ACT 2616



The authors were requested by Mr J. Coombs, QC, to examine image data acquired by Landsat satellites over South Vietnam and then to comment on any apparent correlation of features in the data with information concerning the flight lines of defoliation missions recorded on the C312 HERBO magnetic

tape. This work commenced on January 24, 1984 although one author (S J. Dovey) spent time during the preceding one and one half weeks ordering images, on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs, from the EROS Data Center in South Dakota. That center is the US supplier of Landsat pro­ ducts.

The satellite data presented initially for interpretation consisted of standard false colour composite products of the region in South Vietnam identified by the World Reference System (WRS) for Landsats 1 to 3 as path 133, row 53. Imagery at a scale of 1:500,000 acquired on January 19, 1973 and June 30, 1973 were presented, along with a portion of the scene of June 30, 1973 enlarged to a scale of 1:100,000. These images cover

approximately the region to the west and south-west of the Rung Sat special zone, the Rung Sat zone itself and the region eastwards just beyond the Phuoc Tuy Province.

Definite statements could not be made about correlation between the flight line data and the satellite images at that stage, for two reasons. First, notwithstanding very direct association of intense flight line activity with lack or weakening of mangrove vegetation in the Rung Sat

spectral zone, no associations could be detected readily in the Phuoc Tuy Province; moreover regions to the west and southwest of Rung Sat had the same appearance as the Rung Sat special zone in the imagery in areas with no recorded flight lines. Secondly, the scales of the images, and maps and flight line data provided were different, making careful

comparison difficult.

The authors were therefore requested to determine the of any other suitable Landsat data, either in photographic format or as digital data on computer compatible magnetic tape, and then to use that data to search for likely correlations. The possibility of magnetic tape data was raised on the suggestion of the authors since that type can be

computer processed in many ways before being displayed on a colour monitor, sometimes making subtle features evident.

The body and appendices of this report list the full range of satellite, map and other relevant data gathered for the investigation. Methodologies adopted in interpreting the data are also described in detail as are the likely positional errors in each case.



2.1 MAPS

Three topographic map products were made available:

(i) 1:50,000 scale map sheets identified as 6329 I, 6329 IV, 6330 II, 6330 III, covering the Rung Sat special zone, and dated 1965 and 1967.

(ii) 1:250,000 scale map series 1501, Sheet NC48-7 Edition 3. (Joint Operations Graphic (Ground)), dated 1972.

(iii) 1:250,000 scale map mosaic supplied by Mr Bruce Manning of the Department of Veterans Affairs covering a rectangular region bounded by UTM eastings 670,000 E and 820,000 E and UTM northings 1300,000 N. and 1140,000 N, on the everest

spheroid of the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) map projection and grid reference system. Four fiducial points are marked on the . mosaic, corresponding to similar marks on the flight line overlays of section 2.2. This was the principal map product used in the investigation.


Mr Bruce Manning of the Department of Veteran Affairs also supplied clear plastic sheets on which flight line data for agent orange, white and blue defoliation missions had been plotted from data contained on the C312 HERBO tape. The various missions are represented by plastic strips of the appropriate colour laid onto the clear sheets between the mission stop and start co-ordinates recorded on the tape. This data is at a

scale of 1:250,000 and each sheet has four corner fiducial marks to allow the sheets to be laid over,and registered spatially to,the 1:250,000 scale map mosaic of section 2.l(iii), above.

The plastic strips denoting the missions are 2mm wide. At a scale of 1:250,000 this represents a swath of 500m on the ground. Noting that the spray swath of the aircraft used to fly the defoliation missions is said nominally to be BOrn, then the plastic strips correspond to an equivalent of six aircraft flying side-by-side. While it is known that some missions were flown in this manner, others involved fewer, or per­ haps only one, aircraft. Consequently the width covered by the flight

lines when related to maps or Landsat images should be regarded as wide in general.

Twenty one of the flight line clear plastic overlays were available. Details of these are given in Appendix A.


II. range of black and white, and false colour Landsat photographic products at different scales and of different regions was obtained for the investigation by the Australian Landsat Station from the EROS Data Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA. Details of these are given in Appendix B. Two were used extensively. These are:

A. Landsat 1. Path 133, Row 52, May 25, 1973.

1:250,000 scale, band 5, black and white print. South western quarter of scene only. (This covers the region to the north east of Saigon).

B. Landsat 1. Path 133, Row 53. February 6, 1973.

1:250,000 scale, false colour composite print. North western quarter of scene only. (This covers the Rung Sat special zone and Phuoc Tuy Province).


The Australian Landsat Station also obtained two images in computer compatible tape format from the Thailand Remote Sensing Centre. These were acquired by Landsat 4. Although they cover essentially the same regions as the photographic products, they are identified by a different World Reference System of orbits, owing to the lower altitude of this

satellite. They are identified as:

Tl. Landsat 4. Path 124, Row 53. April 7, 1983

T2. Landsat 4. Path 125, Row 53, June 1, 1983

Appendix C contains a complete list of photographic and tape products advised as being available from the EROS Data Center and the Thailand Remote Sensing Centre. Not all of these were chosen for the investigation; nevertheless some may prove of value if subsequent studies are warranted.



Three procedures were used in attempting to correlate the C312 HERBO tape flight line data with features in Landsat image data:


3.1.1 Methodology

Landsat images A and B in section 2.3 were registered visually with the 1:250,000 scale map mosaic of section 2.l(iii). Roads, tracks, railway lines, the coastline and rivers around the image peripheries were used as registration points. Although the rivers

could not be regarded as highly accurate for this purpose, owing to possible changes with time, there were no alternative features. Figure 1 shows the images so registered. The flight line overlays of section 2.2 were then placed both singly and in groups over the

image map combination, using the four corner fiducial marks on the maps and overlays as registration points. This allowed associations between flight lines and image features to be examined, as depicted in Figure 2.

A limitation with this method is that the images cannot be seen clearly through the several layers of plastic when many overlays are used.

3.1 . 2 Positional Errors

Possible relative errors in position between points on the flight line overlays and corresponding points on the images, and their probable magnitudes are:


Error in forming map mosaic Error in placing flight line strips onto overlay material

Error in registering images to map (lmm) 2 Error in registering overlays to map (2mm) 3

Root mean square of all errors






1. Advice from Department of Veteran Affairs indicates that this would be a maximum figure. 2. Measurements to specific features on the map and the images from a common datum support this as a maximum error resulting from both

positional and scale discrepancies. 3. When all f our fiducial points are used this is a typical maximum error. It is suspected that the discrepancy has arisen from stretches and/or shrinkages in the map and overlay materials since the time when the

points were first marked. For most of the work in this study only the bottom left and top right points were used as these were consistently accurate and certainly well within the figure in this table.




Figure 1: Registration of Landsat images A and B of section 2.3 to the 1:250,000 scale map mosaic of section 2.1(iii)


Figure 2: Illustration of a flight line overlay (Section 2.2) registered to the map and Landsat image combination of Figure 1. The specific overlay used here shows agents white and orange flight lines for February 1967.


On the basis of these figures it is believed therefore that features on the flight line overlays and the images are not likely to have an error in relative position of more than 600m. This is

dominated by the last two sources of error listed, both of which can be regarded as absolute maxima. Should they have typical errors of about 125m then the average relative positional

error would be more like 200-300m. It is believed that this is a

reasonable working figure. Also it should be recalled that this corresponds to only one half of the width of a flight line on the

plastic overlays.


3.2.1 Methodology

To obviate problems caused by accidentally moving the plastic overlays, particularly when used in groups, and to increase flexibility in exploring possible associations of flight line and image features, both the flight line data and specific features in

the Landsat images were entered into a Dipix Aries II image analysis system using a co-ordinate digitizing table. In this manner all flight lines of a given agent colour could be displayed as a separate group. Also, even with the complete set of flight lines displayed, problems encountered in the previous method, with not

being able to see through the plastic, were removed.

Flight lines displayed on the system colour monitor with this method represented an effective width of about 70m for the Rung Sat special zone, and about 90m for the Phuoc Tuy Province.

3.2.2 Positional Errors

In addition to the locational errors listed in section 3.1.2 the following sources and magnitudes are also incurred in this approach.

Error in registering map to digitizer table Error in registering image features to computer video memory Error in positioning digitizer cursor over

flight line end points

Root mean square error from all sources





Therefore features identified in the images and entered into the system for display on its colour monitor are not likely to be more than 600m in error with respect to the flight lines displayed on the system. Again the expected error is more likely to be around 300m, again a figure obtained by reducing the last two error magnitudes

in section 3.1.2 to 125m each.


3.3.1 Methodology

This approach is essentially the same as that of the previous section with the exception that features were not entered into the computer from the image photographs using the digitizing table. Instead, the complete image data for a region was entered from magnetic tape, thereby allowing flight line data to be compared directly with the image. Indeed, this is the computer analogue of the manual overlaying procedure of section 3.1; the advantages here however are that the plastic film medium of the overlays does not obscure the image, that each agent colour can be displayed

separately and that the image data can be computer processed in various ways prior to comparison with the flight line information.


This technique requires the Landsat image data to be corrected for errors in geometry and registered to the UTM co-ordinate system of the map and flight line overlays. This was done with standard digital resampling techniques, using software available on the image analysis system. The geometrically correct images were created with a picture element (or pixel) size of lOOm x This is therefore the

smallest increment of data that can be displayed on the colour monitor. Consequently the flight line data, entered into the system and registered with these images for simultaneous display, will have effective widths of lOOm.

3.3.2 Positional Errors

The locational errors for this approach include those discussed in section 3.1.2 along with the further sources and magnitudes:

Error in registering map to digitizer table 50m

Error in geometrically correcting Landsat digital data to UTM co-ordinate system 200m Error in positioning digitizer cursor over flight line end points 125m

Root mean square error from all relevant sources 634m

It is expected therefore that flight line information displayed on the colour monitor of the image analysis system will be within 640m of the correct position relative to the Landsat image displayed. Again, the actual average relative positional error is possibly more

in the range of 300-400m.



When the flight line overlays are placed over the 1:250,000 scale map/ i ma ge combination as described in section 3 . 1, a very clear correlation is seen between the orientations (bearings) of the flight lines and regions in the images in which the vegetation is either ve.ry sparse or perhaps even lacking altogether. The Rung Sat region is described as being p r edominantly mangrove in its vegetation community (National Academy of Sciences, 1974) with rice growing to the north and in isolated areas on

the western boundary. ' In standard Landsat multispectral scanner false colour composite images this would be expected to appear therefore as a bright red. Some scattered bright red regions are evident, but in the main there is a predominance of blue observable in the 1973 image products. This indicates either bare soil, or sparse or perhaps even unhealthy vegetation. These blue regions are elongate in some cases, parallel to

the flight line data.

It is difficult to associate particular blue elongated regions in the satellite image with specific flight lines. A careful inspection of the flight lines on all overlays (Appendix A) reveals perhaps only about 6 lines for which a direct association could be claimed with lack of vegetation on the image. What is very clear, however, apart from correlation of flight line bearings and vegetation-loss trends, is the strong association between the northern boundary of the complete group of flight lines (1965-1970) over the Rung . Sat special zone and a boundary in the image between apparently healthy vegetation to the north and vegetation to the south

that is stressed in some manner. Such a strong association is easy to observe since the flight lines are east-west in that region.

The eastern boundary of the group of flight lines in Rung Sat and the t r ansition from stressed (to the west) and healthy vegetation are also readily associated.

The wes tern boundary of the Rung Sat special zone is marked by the Saigon River, which is particularly wide. Nothing special can be said a bout correlation with flight line data and the border of vegetation str ess since this appears to occur largely at the river. There is no

r eason t o s uspect from the image data that significant spraying extended into or beyo nd the river.

Initally concern was expressed by the authors (see preamble) over the blue/white appearance in the Landsat imagery of the region on the western side of the Saigon River opposite Rung Sat, and the extension of t hat colouring several tens of kilometres to the south across the Mekong River delta . The topographic maps supplied however indicate that that re­

gion is used for rice growing and could, therefore, reasonably be expected to have a blue appearance in a fallow state. If it is assumed that the crops

are r a in watered in that region and do not depend significantly upon irri­ ga t ion from the river systems. The appearance of the area in a sequence of satellite images supports the interpretation given. For example, noting that t he wet season in South Vietnam commences in about June and lasts to Novem­ be r , it is consistent that in January satellite imagery , the region appears genera lly a s bright red (implying full growth before harvest); imagery in Fe brua r y shows a mixture of red and white, indicating harvest could be

underway : while imagery in June shows the region as substantially blue,


implying that the crops are fully harvested with perhaps new crops sown but not emerged. Emergence would depend presumably upon incipient wet season rainfall. It would be of interest to check this interpretation by obtain­ ing crop calender information and reliable vegetation maps for the region.

Since flight line orientations and vegetation stress patterns could be associated, as could regional spraying boundaries as noted earlier, and since specific flight line associations could not be made in general terms, it was concluded that if the vegetation stress was caused by spraying missions, as seems highly likely, then the damage is probably the result of

several spatially coincidental or near coincidental missions. This comment can be made particularly for regions in the Rung Sat special zone in which large numbers of flight lines intersect at different angles. Those regions seem almost totally devoid of vegetation in the 1973 satellite imagery used.

By entering the flight line data into the image analysis computer as described in section 3.2, it is possible to reinforce these observations. The coastline and river system around and in the Rung Sat special zone were entered into the system by the authors from the Landsat image B in section

2.3, using the facilities of the digitizing table. In addition, several significant regions in Rung Sat that in 1973 seemed to correspond to healthy stands of mangroves (mangals) were entered. The flight line data was then superimposed over this image information and displayed on the system's colour monitor. To the extent that the maximum and expected locational error of

the flight lines in the computer with this method are 600m and 300m respectively, a very good correlation can be noted between residual healthy mangals and areas in which there are either no flight lines or only very few flight lines. Regions in which the flight line density is high, and particularly where flight lines intersect in large numbers show no residual mangals. These features can be seen in Figure 3.

Towards the end of the investigation the computer compatible magnetic tapes noted in section 2.3 became available. T 1 covers the region to the west of the Rung Sat special zone, almost from Saigon in the north, south­ wards about lOOkm. It does not include all of Rung Sat but its eastern

boundary encloses about two thirds of that zone. Consequently, it was not pursued further except to note that the apparent vegetation stress patterns seen in the 1973 photographic data are still observable. There is some evidence of vegetation recovery indicated by a general but low level reddening in the Rung Sat zone. Whether this is mangrove regeneration or

the growth of a different vegetation type could not be determined.

Tape T 2 has its western boundary well to the west of the Rung Sat zone and extends eastwards and northwards to cover beyond Phuoc Tuy Province. It was therefore used for the remainder of the study. A

major drawback with this image, however, is that it has mottled, yet heavy cloud cover over the Rung Sat zone and along the Phuoc Tuy coastline, as seen in Figures 4 and 6. Nevertheless it can be used for some general




Figure 3: (a) Coastline and river system in the Rung Sat Special Zone (purple). The regions identified in white correspond to some apparently healthy stands of mangroves in the Zone, identified by photointerpreting the Landsat image B of section 2.3. The

fine dark lines through these regions should be ignored. (b) Complete set of agents orange, white and blue flight lines over the Rung Sat Special for the period August 1965 to

December 1970, shown in green.


As noted in section 3.3 it was necessary to register the image to the UTM map of section 2.l(iii) in order to remove image geometry errors and to allow map and flight line features to be entered into the computer for superposition on the image.

For the Rung Sat zone the same general remarks, as earlier, with regard to 1973 imagery, can be made concerning the associations of flight line and vegetation stress patterns, although vegetation recovery and the presence of clouds made the correlations less definite. This is seen in Figure 5. Perhaps the most . significant observation is that the apparent mangrove damage has not recovered substantially some 14 to 19 years after

the defoliation missions.

Figure 4:


(a) The Rung Sat Special Zone in 1983 as obtained from Landsat tape T2 in Section 2.3, showing the presence of clouds. (b) The result of a cloud suppression procedure. It is important to note that the clouds are still present, but shown in a mid-grey tone. Also areas of healthy mangrove (and other ?j vegetation show as brighter tones. A cloud "removal" procedure was tried on the Rung Sat image segment. This consisted of computer synthesing a new black and white image that is

the ratio of the Landsat band 7 (infrared) and band 5 (visible red). This is known to render water black, clouds mid-grey and healthy vegetation white. This product is shown in Figure 4. Even though the clouds are

still present their new subdued tones do not detract visually from the vegetation features of interest.

Another image processing procedure known as principal components analysis was also tried as a cloud removal procedure. This worked, but offered no apparent advantages over the ratio technique of the previous paragraph and was not pursued further.



Figure 5: (a) Agents orange, white and blue flight lines shown in green. in relation to the Rung Sat Special Zone image obtained from tape T2 in Section 2.3. Here the image data has been contrast enhanced to make the resigual mangrove regions more apparent.


(b) As for (a) but with the flight lines shown. in red,

in relation to the cloud suppressed image of Figure 4(b).



In all of the Landsat products available· it is not possible to detect any regions of vegetation stress in the Phuoc Tuy Province that could be associated definitely with the flight line information on the transparent overlays. It is presumed that this is because the forest vegetation

types in that region are thought to regenerate in a matter' of months following defoliation, (National Academy of Science, 1974). Given that the earliest imagery available was acquired some four years after the last sprayings of the region, this is not an unreasonable conclusion to draw. Added to this is the fact that the spraying density seems to have been light

by comparison to that in the Rung Sat special zone and in the region to the north east of Saigon, described below. In those cases it seems that stress of vegetation is related more to regions of multiple spraying, rather than to just sihgle applications.

Computer processing of the digital Landsat data also does not reveal any flight line/vegetation stress associations, although this is made difficult by the poor quality of the data, the cloud distribution and the seasonal differences in vegetation caused by the preceding dry season.

(Figure 6). It is unfortunate that digital data appears not to be avail­ able for the 1973 imagery; computer enhancement in that case could have been of value.


In the region bounded by UTM co-ordinates 700,000 E, 725,000 E and 1220,000 N, 1270,000 N significant linear vegetation stress patterns of some form are evident on the 1:250,000 scale Landsat black and white imagery available. These show as lighter than the background tone in the visible red data (band 5) and darker than the background tone in infrared

data (band 7), and can be observed in both dates for which the data is available (see Appendix B). The following remarks are made, however, on the basis of the single product A referred to in section 2.3.

When the flight line overlays of section 2.2 are placed over the registered combination of image product A and the map mosaic of section 2.l(iii) there is a very clear association of the orientations (bearings) of the flight lines and the vegetation stress patterns. As with the Rung Sat special zone discussed earlier, it is not possible in general to associate particular flight paths with a particular line of vegetation

stress; however the boundaries of the stressed area and the boundaries of the general group of flight lines agree particularly well, with the exception of that to the north. The western edge of the flight line group is well correlated with the vegetation stress patterns; also the eastern edge of the stressed region corresponds to the eastern edge of the most

intensely sprayed region. Flight lines do exist further eastwards, however they are less dense and apart from one small area (see below) do not associate any flight lines. The southern edge of the sprayed region,

a few kilometres south of the Saigon river, is also reasonably well correlated with the southern boundary of the area of vegetation stress.

Vegetation stress patterns extend about 15km further north than the complete group of flight lines contained on the overlays provided. It is


Figure 6: The Phuoc Tuy Province (green boundary) as seen in imagery obtained from Landsat tape T2 in Section 2 . 3.


presumed that the corresponding flight line data for that area has not been entered onto clear plastic overlays, since the current set of plastic sheets do not extend fully over that northernmost portion.

A small region to the east, centred on 734,000 E, 1244,000N seems to show residual north-south trending vegetation stress. That region does correspond to north-south flight lines, but in no greater density than the surrounding countryside. However it was sprayed in an east-west fashion at an earlier time (December 1966) than when the complete region was sprayed north-south. It is concluded therefore that the earlier spraying weakened the vegetation sufficiently there to cause noticeable residual stress when oversprayed north-south.

Since the Phuoc Tuy Province did not display any definite residual effects of sprqying in the satellite image data available, owing presumably to the rapid recovery of the woodland in that region, an explanation is required concerning the effects visible in the area north-east of Saigon. The topographic maps available show the area as used for cropland. This is

consistant with the topographic texture observable in the winter infrared imagery available (February 6, 1973). The region sprayed is seen to be quite flat (and thus could be used for cropping, being in the proximity of the Saigon river) by comparison to the more hilly and mountainous terrain which develops slightly further to the north-east.

Figure 7 shows the intensity of flight line data in this region, in relation to the river and major road system. This can be compared with the satellite data to observe the associations discussed above.

REFERENCE: National Academy of Sciences 1974. The Effects of Herbicides in South Vietnam Part A. Summary and Conclusions. Washington D.C.

Figure 7: Flight lines for herbicide agents in the region north east of Saigon. The major river stream system is shown in white, roads and tracks in yellow and lime green and the various herbicide agents in the colours shown. The broken blue line to the north east shows the onset of mountainous terrain.




The overlays provided gave information on agents orange, blue and white missions during the periods indicated.










10. 11.

12. 13.



16. 17.

18. 19. 20.


August 1965

January 1966 July 1966 November 1966

December 1966

January 1967 February 1967 March 1967

April 1967 July 1967 September 1967

October 1967

November 1967 -January 1968 April 1968 July 1968

September 1968-November 1968 -January 1969 July 1969 January 1970

December 1965

June 1966 October 1966

June 1967 August 1967

December 1967

March 1968

June 1968

August 1968

October 1968

December 1968

June 1969 December 1969

December 1970




PATH 133 ROW 52

February 6, 1973 1:250,000 !z; BP bands 5,7 (south west)

February 6, 1973 1:1,000,000 BP band 4

February 6, 1973 1:1,000,000 BT bands 4,5,7

May 25, 1973 1:250,000 !z; BP bands 5,7 (south west)

May 25, 1973 1:1,000,000 BP band 4

May 25, 1973 1:1,000,000 BT bands 4,5,7

PATH 133 ROW 53

January 19, 1973 1:500,000 CP

February 6, 1973 1:250,000 !z; CP (north west)

February 6, 1973 1:1,000,000 CT

June 30, 1973 1:500,000 CP

June 30, 1973 1:100,000 CP (Rung Sat, Phuoc Tuy)

PATH 134 ROW 53

January 2, 1973 1:250,000 !z; CP (north east)

January 2, 1973 1:1,000,000 CT

May 26, 1973 1:1,000,000 BP bands 4,5,7

May 26, 1973 1:1,000,000 BT bands 4,5,7

KEY: BP - black and white print

BT - black and white transparency

CP - colour print

CT - colour transparency

A preceding !z; indicates a quarter scene only.





PATH 134 - ROW 53


October 22, 1972 50%

November 27, 1972 70%

December 15, 1972 20%

January 2, 1973 10%

January 20, 1973 30%

February 25, 1973 70%

March 15, 1973 30%

May 8, 1973 20%

May 26, 1973 20%

Au gust 6, 1973 80%

September 11, 1973 70%

September 29, 1973 90%

February 24, 1975 50%

March 14. 1975 80%

April 1, _ 1975 40%

November 21, 1975 50%

February 1, 1976 20%






September 15, 1972

October 3, 1972

November 8, 1972

November 26, 1972

December 14, 1972

January 1, 1973

January 19, 1973

February 6, 1973

February 24, 1973

March 14, 1973

May 25, 1973

June 30, 1973

September 10, 1973

September 28, 1973

October 16, 1973

February 23, 1975

March 13, 1975

August 22, 1975

September 27, 1975

December 8, 1975

January 13, 1976

January 31, 1976


ROW 52























ROW 53






















TAPE PRODUCTS (None available for 1972-1974 period)



PATH 133 - ROW 52


March 26,

April 8, March 21,




PATH 133 - ROW 53

March 26, 1983

November 10, 1982


PATH 124 - ROW 52

April 7, 1983

PATH 124 - ROW 53

April 7, 1983

PATH 125 - ROW 52

June 1, 1983

PATH 125 - ROW 53

June 1, 1983

(Late line start problem)