Vietnam to master homegrown dioxin remediation

By Hoang Thuy   January 9, 2021 | 05:00 am PT
Vietnam to master homegrown dioxin remediation
Foreign experts measures the amount of dioxin in the soil at Bien Hoa airport in Vietnam's southern Dong Nai Province in line with a remediation project carried out by the U.S. Agency for International Development, December 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan.
Vietnam will develop its own technique to clean up dioxin left from the Vietnam War instead of relying on U.S. collaboration.

Colonel General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Minister of National Defense, told a Friday meeting Vietnam targets to complete dioxin remediation across all contaminated areas that have been detected by 2025.

Affected areas include Bien Hoa Airport, the most contaminated spot in the country in Dong Nai Province, neighboring Ho Chi Minh City, and A So Airport in central Thua Thien-Hue Province.

Related agencies will continue to investigate the current status of toxic chemical and dioxin residues in other areas sprayed during the war that last from 1955 to 1975.

Vietnam is expected to develop its own method of cleaning up dioxin, with all such projects thus far completed in collaboration with the U.S.

Between 1961 and 1971, the U.S. army sprayed some 80 million liters of Agent Orange, compounds of dioxins and dioxin-like mixtures, over 78,000 square kilometers (30,000 square miles) of southern Vietnam.

Dioxin, a highly toxic chemical contained in the defoliant, stays in the soil and at the bottom of lakes and rivers for generations. It can enter the food chain through meat, fish and other animals, and has been found at alarmingly high levels in human breast milk.

Between 2.1 to 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals, which have been linked to cancers, birth defects and other chronic diseases.

In the past 10 years, dioxin remediation has been completed at Da Nang International Airport in central Da Nang City and Phu Cat Airport of central Binh Dinh Province.

The 2025 target of Vietnam’s national defense ministry also includes clearing about 800,000 hectares of land contaminated with bombs, mines and explosives left from the war.

In the 2010-2020 period, the total area to have been surveyed and cleared of bombs and unexploded ordnance (UXO) was more than 500,000 hectares (1.23 million acres). Of this, 400,000 hectares had been cleared by the ministry and the rest, by international organizations.

More than VND12.624 trillion ($546.23 million) has been spent on clearing UXO in Vietnam, including more than VND1.42 trillion from its own budget.

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