Dioxin cleanup half- finished at Da Nang International Airport

May 3, 2016 | 05:20 pm PT
Dioxin cleanup half- finished at Da Nang International Airport
Workers collecting confirmation samples of the soil. Photo by Da Nang City's portal
Vietnamese government and the U.S embassy marked the halfway point of a project to clean the soil in Da Nang Airport from dioxin contamination yesterday.

Decades after the U.S-Vietnam war, USAID contractors have helped to clean up 15 out of 19 hectares of dioxin-contaminated soils at the airport referred as a dioxin “hotspot” due to high dioxin concentrations in soil and sediment since 2014, according to a statement on the government's website. 

The contractors use thermal desorption technology that involves heating the soil and sediment to a high temperature to destroy dioxin.  They optimized performance of the thermal treatment system by installing and operating approximately 460 shortened heaters and raising approximately 1,045 heater elements to deliver more heat to the top layer of the pile, according to USAID's website. 

The U.S. Government agreed to complete the environmental remediation, or cleanup, of the Danang Airport due to high dioxin concentrations in soil and sediment remaining from the U.S.-Vietnam War upon request of the Vietnamese government in 2011. 

USAID and the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense (MND) are jointly implementing the Danang Airport Remediation Project, which aims to clean up the dioxin contamination and consequently eliminate risk of dioxin exposure to the surrounding community while developing Vietnamese capacity for environmental assessment and remediation activities. 

This project "manifested the awareness and deed of the Governments of Viet Nam and the US in overcoming the war consequences, closing the past and looking forwards to the future for peace and prosperity", said Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam at the ceremony. He urges the U.S to accelerate projects in resolving the war consequences. 

Both sides will have to treat around 148,000 m3 of soil and sediment and repair environmental problems caused by the thermal desorption technology. Phase 2 excavation activities resumed with dewatering and excavation of contaminated soil and sediment from Sen Lake and the Southern Drainage Ditch and build a new temporary soil storage area. USAID contractors installed erosion control measures and continuously inspected them to prevent offsite migration of contaminants, according to USAID website. A four-part training program designed for Government of Vietnam counterparts is included to increase their capabilities in key aspects of the environmental assessment process.

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2018. 

Da Nang, Phu Cat and Bien Hoa airports have been identified as the most contaminated sites and are the Vietnamese government’s priority for remediation of soils and sediments to eliminate the risks of human exposure to dioxin.

Vietnamese government says many people are handicapped due to Agent Orange/dioxin, including their offsprings, while million tons of unexploded bombs left from the war are endangering people’s life everyday.

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