HA NOI (VNS)— For the 170,000 Vietnamese living near Bien Hoa and Phu Cat airbases, they may finally start living without fear of dioxin exposure as a result of a five-year clean up of dioxin contaminated hotspots in Viet Nam.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's Committee 33 and the UN Development Programme made the announcement at a workshop held yesterday.
Bien Hoa, Da Nang and Phu Cat airbases were contaminated hotspots of dioxin, a toxin that causes large-scale disruptions to ecosystem and poses serious health risks to humans in surrounding areas.
Cleanup efforts in the area began in 2010 and received more than US$5 million in funding from the Global Environment Facility and the Czech Republic.
Speaking at the event, UNDP Deputy Country Director Bakhodir Burkhanov said that when the project began, there was a serious lack of information and public awareness about the negative effects of dioxin exposure, and a lack of technological capacity to clean it up.
"Five years is a long life cycle for a project, but a very short period for eliminating dioxin contamination in Viet Nam, a problem that has been in existence for well over 40 years," he said.
The project removed a total of 7,500-m3 dioxin-contaminated soil at Phu Cat airbase in Binh Dinh Province, and implemented communication campaign to enhance awareness on dioxin exposure risks of the communities.
"Accurate information, awareness-raising and advocacy will go a long way towards limiting dioxin-related consequences to people's health and livelihoods," Burkhanov added.
The campaign against dioxin residue continues at Da Nang airbase and in Bien Hoa of Dong Nai Province with the support of the US Government.
According to Committee 33 estimates, the US army sprayed approximately 80 million liters of toxic herbicides containing 366 kilograms of dioxin over 76,800 square kilometers of southern Viet Nam between 1961 and 1971.
It is estimated that between 2.1 to 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides during the war. — VNS