History of Fort McClellan
Fort McClellan (originally called Camp McClellan) was a U.S. Army post near Anniston, Alabama that opened in 1917. Ft. McClellan has served multiple different purposes since its establishment in 1917. This includes serving as the home of the Women’s Army Corps from 1973 to 1978, and also as the home of the Military Police Corps and Chemical Corps from 1975 to 1999.
History of Exposure at Fort McClellan
Beginning in the 1920’s Ft. McClellan stored polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), sulfur mustard, white phosphorus, plutonium, Agent Orange, Agent Blue, uranium, Napalm-B, nerve agents, blister agents, Cesium (Cs-137), and Cobalt. These toxins where stored at Fort McClellan as they waited to be destroyed in the incinerator. While waiting to be destroyed, toxins were kept in containers which ended up leaking into the soil, creeks, streams, and aquifers that fed the wells at Fort McClellan.
From the 1940’s to the 1970’s additional contamination at Fort McClellan occurred as a result of the Monsanto Plant in nearby Anniston, Alabama. Monsanto was the world’s largest biotech corporation and knowingly dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into Anniston’s landfill and creek.
Conditions Associated with Exposure at Fort McClellan
Below is a list of common conditions that are caused by the different toxins that were present at Fort McClellan:
- PCB – liver damage, liver cancer, skin conditions, anemia, changes in the immune system, impaired reproduction
- Agent Orange – myelomas, Hodgkin’s disease, diabetes mellitus II, Parkinson’s disorder, leukemia, early onset peripheral neuropathy, prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, amyloidosis, ischemic heart disease
- Sulfur Mustard – respiratory cancers, long-term respiratory problems, bronchitis, problems with sexual function due to lower sperm counts
- Cobalt – exposure to high levels of cobalt can result in lung and heart problems, dermatitis, liver problems, and kidney problems. Exposure to high levels of cobalt can also result in changes to the genetic materials within a body’s cells and may result in development of some cancers.
- Cesium – mammary tumors, birth defects, decreased mental abilities, damage to cells
- Plutonium – cancers of the lungs, liver, and bones; and immune system problems
- Uranium – kidney disease, bone cancer, lung cancer
- Agent Blue – bladder cancer, stomach cancer, lymphatic cancers, lung cancer, leukemia, skin cancers, liver cancer
Please note, the above conditions are not an exhaustive list of the health effects related to exposure to the toxins at Fort McClellan.
VA Claims for Conditions Related to Exposure at Fort McClellan
The VA does admit that some members of the “US Army Chemical Corp School, Army Combat Development Command, Chemical/Biological/Radiological Agency, Army Military Police School, and Women’s Army Corps, among others, may have been exposed to one or more of several hazardous materials, likely at low levels, during their service at Fort McClellan.” However, the VA has not established any regulation that would give presumptive service connection for conditions related to Fort McClellan exposure.
Claims related to exposure at Fort McClellan can be difficult, but NOT impossible to win. One of the most important things you can do to make your claim as strong as it can be is obtaining a medical opinion. This medical opinion should include scientific and medical research that explains how a condition is related to the veteran’s exposure. Remember, the evidence only has to show that it is at least as likely as not that a condition is related to the exposure.