|The land, part of Biên Hòa air base, is now used as a park after being cleared of dioxin. VNA/VNS Photo Công Phong|
ĐỒNG NAI — Nearly three hectares of dioxin-polluted land southwest of Biên Hòa air base, the most contaminated area in Việt Nam, has been treated and handed over to the southern province of Đồng Nai.
This is the first part of the air base completely remediated and accounts for only 4 per cent of the total area that needs to be treated within a project by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The US agency also announced a new contract of more than US$70 million in five years on decontamination of the base during an event to return the treated land and commemorated a new park on land recently cleaned by USAID on Tuesday, with the participation of the visiting USAID Administrator Samantha Power.
Under the new contract, Nelson Environmental Remediation USA, an American small business, will design and build a treatment facility to decontaminate soil and sediment on and around the air base. The first phase will treat more than 100,000cu.m of approximately 500,000cu.m of dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment.
The Biên Hòa clean-up project was launched in April 2019 and is expected to take 10 years to complete and cost up to $450 million. To date, the US government’s contribution is $163.25 million, out of a total expected contribution of $300 million. The Biên Hòa clean-up is nearly four times the volume of a previous clean-up project at Đà Nẵng Airport, which USAID and the Vietnamese Ministry of Defence completed in 2018.
Sen. Lieut. Gen. Hoàng Xuân Chiến, Deputy Minister of National Defence, said that the Biên Hòa air base clean-up is an important project for cooperation between the US and Việt Nam in overcoming war consequences.
Việt Nam still has about 4.8 million people exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin and more than 6 million hectares are still contaminated with mines and explosives, Chiến said, hoping for more support from the US, USAID, other countries and international organisations to help Việt Nam treat dioxin contamination at such air bases as Biên Hòa and Phù Cát.
US Ambassador to Việt Nam Marc Knapper, said: “Our example of reconciliation will forever serve as a profound lesson to the rest of the world of what can be achieved when we move forward as trusted friends instead of foes.
"Let us redouble our efforts in ensuring that our bilateral partnership grows stronger and more resilient for the next 27 years and beyond.”
From 1961 to 1971, the US dumped on southern Việt Nam about 80 million litres of herbicides, 61 per cent of which was Agent Orange, containing about 366kg of dioxin, the most toxic chemical so far, according to the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange.
The chemical warfare conducted by the US destroyed more than 3 million hectares of forest, affected more than 22,000 villages with 4.8 million people directly exposed to toxic chemicals.
Most of the sprayed land has been cleaned up. Locations with a high density of dioxin remain, among them are Đà Nẵng, Biên Hòa (in Đồng Nai Province) and Phù Cát (in Bình Định Province). — VNS