Viet Nam News
ĐÀ NẴNG —Decades after the end of conflict between Việt Nam and the US, teams from the two countries are still working to restore soil contaminated by toxic chemicals employed by the American military during the war.
Yesterday, the teams announced substantial progress on one such effort, the Environmental Remediation of Dioxin Contamination at Đà Nẵng Airport Project. The project has successfully treated over 94,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil, eliminating the health risks from dioxin exposure, and is expected to be completed by early next year.
Major General and Deputy Head Commander of Air Defences, Bùi Anh Chung, announced the update at a working visit with a delegation of US politicians, led by Ted Yoho, chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific within the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in Đà Nẵng yesterday.
Chung said the project, which was launched in 2012, contributes to the Việt Nam-US bilateral relationship and will result in a cleaner, safer environment for the people of Đà Nẵng.
Chung noted that almost 63 provinces and cities in Việt Nam were contaminated with landmines and bombs during the American War—affecting 61,300 sq.km, 18.22 per cent of the country’s area, all told.
He said it was estimated that Việt Nam would spend decades cleaning land from Unexploded Ordnance (UXOs) and toxic chemicals used during the war.
Chung also said that the chemically contaminated areas were not just former military airbases (Đà Nẵng, Phù Cát, Biên Hòa), but also mountainous areas like A So commune in A Lưới District in Thừa Thiên-Huế and Sa Thầy district in the Central Highlands Kon Tum Province.
The Major General also expressed appreciation for the support and co-operation from partners including the US Agency of International Development (USAID), US Pacific Command, Việt Nam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), Golden West Humanitarian Foundation and others.
He said the airport dioxin remediation project had received fund of more than US$100 million, of which $2.6 million from Việt Nam Government.
Chung also said Việt Nam, in co-operation with the US, had repatriated 1,000 boxes containing remains of the US soldiers missing in action (MIA), of which 700 were identified with matching DNA, over the last 40 years.
He said Việt Nam, in co-operation with Laos and Cambodia, had accompanied Vietnamese witnesses—veterans of the conflict—to conduct 67 searches for the remains of US soldiers missing-in-action in Laos and Cambodia.
During the working visit, Chung also asked the US to continue supporting Việt Nam with non-refundable Official Development Assistance (ODA) in cleaning dioxin contaminated areas in the former airbases of Biên Hòa in Đồng Nai Province and Phủ Cát in Bình Định Province. The assistance has also been used to clear UXO contaminated areas and support the victims of landmines and bombs.
In August, representatives from the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence, Air Defence-Air Force Command and the US Agency of International Development (USAID) formally signed an agreement to return over 12.7ha of dioxin remediated land at the Đà Nẵng International Airport to the control of the Ministry of Transport, after the project’s teams had been working on the land for years
The project, which completed its first phase in May, has handed over a 5.97ha area for the development of runways and parking lots at the airport in preparation for the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit in Đà Nẵng on November 5-11.
As planned, the project will return more than 16ha in the first quarter next year for the airport expansion project.
Đà Nẵng’s former US air base is considered a dioxin hot spot. Other dioxin-polluted spots include Biên Hoà in the southwestern province of Đồng Nai and Phù Cát Airport in Bình Định Province.— VNS