Dioxin cleanup completed at central Vietnam airport

By Vo Thanh   October 24, 2023 | 03:31 pm PT
Dioxin cleanup completed at central Vietnam airport
A police officer stands in an area where dioxin has been removed from A So airport in Thua Thien Hue Province, Oct. 24, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh
The Ministry of National Defense has finished clearing dioxin contamination left from the Vietnam War from A So airport in Thua Thien-Hue Province after nearly three years of work.

The ministry’s Chemical Command announced on Tuesday it has finished cleaning up 38,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil at the airport in A Luoi District.

In 2020, the command received approval for work to remove dioxin from the airport at a cost of VND70 billion ($3 million).

Lying 100 km from the town of Hue, the country’s imperial capital, A So airport was built by the U.S. in the 1960s.

Between August 1965 and December 1970, the district was among the places the U.S. sprayed Agent Orange most intensively.

From 1961 to 1971 the U.S. army made nearly 20,000 sorties and sprayed 80 million liters of deadly chemicals over farmlands and forests in Vietnam.

Of this, 61% was Agent Orange, containing 366 kg of dioxin, a highly toxic defoliant that stays in the soil and at the bottom of lakes and rivers for generations.

According to government data, around 11 kg of dioxin was sprayed on A So airport.

It is estimated that the chemical has percolated 0.7 m into the soil and a total of 35,000 cubic meters of land at the airport was contaminated.

Some 2.1-4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals that have been linked to cancers, birth defects and other chronic diseases before the war ended in April 1975, according to the Red Cross.

Of them, 16,000 are in Thua Thien-Hue, including 5,000 in A Luoi District.

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