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US offers $34m to clear Agent Orange at Da Nang Airport

Update: November, 19/2010 - 10:00
HA NOI — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has told the Da Nang People's Committee that it plans to spend US$34 million to rid the city's airport of Agent Orange.

The two-year project is intended to ensure that plants can again grow in contaminated earth.

Former military airports in central Binh Dinh Province's Phu Cat District and southern Dong Nai Province's Bien Hoa District will be next on the list for detoxification, says USAID.

During the past three years, with funding provided by various American non-governmental organisations, the agency has approved spending of US$21 million to deal with dioxin contamination in the country, according to Da Nang City's Department of Foreign Affairs.

The $21 million total includes $16 million to be spent on dioxin clean-up of the area and $2 million to be spent on assessing environmental impacts as well as exploring technical solutions to the problem.

The remaining $3 million have been earmarked to help improve the lives of the city's Agent Orange victims and disadvantaged people.

Dioxin-contaminated earth will be scooped up and burned in tubes at temperatures of more than 350 Celsius degrees, according to the agency.

From 72 to 80 million litres or defoliants were sprayed over Vietnamese forests during the war, including the highly toxic Agent Orange, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Da Nang, Bien Hoa and Phu Cat airports are home to some of the highest dioxin concentrations in the country. Agent Orange was once stored in Da Nang Airport for defoliation missions during the war. Spillage caused contamination of the environment.

Today, dioxin levels at the airport are up to 400 times higher than internationally accepted levels.

The affected zone has been sealed off from the public. — VNS

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