Alabama veterans board wants inquiry into chemical exposure at former Army post

Published 11:54 am Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Alabama’s veterans affairs board is pushing for the creation of a program to aid veterans who have health problems that might stem from exposure to toxic chemicals at a former U.S. Army post.

The State Board of Veterans Affairs unanimously passed a resolution that urges the Alabama congressional delegation to support legislation calling for a study on the effects of service at Fort McClellan, reported Monday.

The resolution also calls for a health registry and a presumptive service connection, meaning that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would presume that disabilities were caused by military service.

Established in 1917 near Anniston, Fort McClellan housed the Army’s Chemical Corps after World War II. It closed in 1999.

Personnel tested exposure to nerve agents and sulfur mustard there in 1953, the resolution says.

A 1998 U.S. Army Environmental Center study found contaminants at the installation. The organization required a cleanup and investigation before Fort McClellan could be converted to the public domain after its closure.

The National Academy of Medicine determined in 2005 that the site’s soil and groundwater were contaminated.

Those who served on Fort McClellan were excluded from a 2003 class-action settlement between the City of Anniston and the nearby Monsanto chemical plant. It operated from 1929-1971 and caused additional exposure to toxic substances, according to the VA.

While the department has admitted to the presence of some hazardous materials and potential exposures at the post, it hasn’t acknowledged health issues associated with service there.