LA Times Reporter Uncovers History Of Chemical Spraying On Apache Reservation; EPA Investigating

Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 2:38pm
Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 2:49pm

Every day, for a decade in the 1960s, a plane would fly over the San Carlos Apache Reservation and spray the land below with a chemical cocktail.

It was a federal program that aimed to wipe out thirsty vegetation along the Gila River to preserve water for the growing city of Phoenix 90 miles to the southeast.

Now, more than 50 years later, the Environmental Protection Agency has investigators on the ground on the reservation to find out if there are any lingering effects on the Apache people.

This story was uncovered by Nigel Duara, who covers the Southwest for the LA Times, who spoke with The Show’s Lauren Gilger about the story.

The tribe’s government actually signed off on the program, but the people were never told about it. They were never told what this this chemical compound was, or why it was being sprayed.

According to Duara, it was a called Silvex, and it has components similar to Agent Orange, which has been accused of causing serious health problems for soldiers in Vietnam and in other areas around the country.

And some think that people on the reservation have experienced serious health problems because of it.

Duara tells the story through Mike Stevens, who was a kid when the spraying was happening. His wife’s family lived right on the river bank where it was focused, and all of them have since died of various cancers or other diseases. So he wants answers.

But, Duara said, to understand the effect this may have on the reservation today, you have to understand the reservation as it was back then.

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