News / USA

US Begins Historic Clean Up of Agent Orange in Vietnam

A woman walks next to a highly contaminated pond around the grounds of the Danang airbase in Danang, Vietnam, May 21, 2007
A woman walks next to a highly contaminated pond around the grounds of the Danang airbase in Danang, Vietnam, May 21, 2007
Daniel Schearf
BANGKOK — The United States next week in Vietnam will begin cleaning up leftover deposits of the toxic chemical dioxin from the herbicide Agent Orange sprayed by U.S. forces on vegetation during the Vietnam War.  The toxin was found at former U.S. air bases and has been linked to disease and birth defects. On the significance of the cleanup and the health consequences of dioxin still felt in Vietnam today.
 
Environment decontamination

Vietnamese and U.S. officials on Thursday are launching a project to clean up a contaminated former American airbase at Da Nang.
 
The Vietnam War-era base was one of many used to store Agent Orange, an herbicide with an unintended but highly toxic byproduct, dioxin.  
 
During the Vietnam War U.S. air forces sprayed millions of liters of Agent Orange to clear vegetation in search of Vietnam’s communist forces.
 
The defoliant killed off millions of acres of vegetation and has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, cancer and birth defects.
 
But, due to doubts about scientific evidence, and concerns about liability and diplomatic relations, efforts to clean up the toxin have been slow.  
 
Charles Bailey is director of the Agent Orange in Vietnam Program at the Aspen Institute, a co-chair of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange.  He says the clean-up marks a historic turning point and both governments deserve credit.

Daniel Schearf interviews Charles Bailey


“Because, they’ve both come a long way from being, you know, unable to agree on most aspects of this subject to a point where they have successfully over a number of years done all the technical work to get to this point of saying ‘ok, here’s how we’re going to destroy it once and for all,” said Bailey.
 
Exposure to Agent Orange

The U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, is overseeing the clean up at Da Nang, the most toxic of 28 dioxin “hot spots” in Vietnam.
 
The decontamination will involve testing and gathering affected soil and heating it to high temperature to burn off leftover dioxin. 
 
Da Nang is still a working airport so the four-year, $43 million, project has to be carried out carefully.
 
Other former air bases are expected to be cleaned-up within the next decade, erasing the most toxic traces of dioxin.  
 
But, Bailey says even after decontamination the larger problem is helping people and their descendants whose health problems are associated with Agent Orange.
 
“For them, particularly for children and young adults who’ve been born with disabilities, the effort, the focus, has been on programs that will enable them to live lives of greater comfort and dignity and to achieve what they are capable of, and to assist their families,” Bailey stated.
 

Vietnam says at least three million people living near the bases were exposed to Agent Orange and show higher incidents of disease and birth defects.
 
Families suffering from disabilities show a higher rate of poverty as health care expenses go up and family income goes down.  
 
The U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin estimates $450 million is needed to completely eliminate dioxin “hot spots” and provide care, education, and economic opportunities to those affected.
 
So far, about $100 million has been raised from American foundations, United Nations agencies, and governments including the United States.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chris from: Fl
August 08, 2012 9:47 AM
First, 'Dioxin' is not one particular chemical....dioxin is the term for any cancer causing agent, and AO had 52 different dioxins in it.
2nd...Dwight....it used to be only non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and Spina Bifida were the only compensable illnesses the VA considered caused by AO......about 10 years ago, they changed all that and now consider ANY cancer of the respiratory system to be presumptively caused by AO....all the proof that is needed is that the claimant was actually in SVN.


by: Mark from: Japan
August 05, 2012 6:54 PM
I just returned from a week trip to Hanoi. A lovely country; lovely people.... The cost of war in blood is tragic in itself. The cost of treasure can last for decades or longer. Not sure why nations do not learn that in war nobody wins....


by: Dwight Hedrick from: North Carolina
August 03, 2012 4:35 PM
I have just become aware of the situation still going on in
Cambodia and VN concerning AO.
Personally, I have just won my award for disabilities from
AO.... at least, some token for its affect on my like. Still
not accepted is my bought with cancer and the loss of my
third child who was born with no lungs and tumors through
out her body.... and not accepted as an AO cause, only
spinal bifida is at this point. I am curious about those children
still being affected and what the defects are. Nothing can
redo my situation at this point.....however, I never hear how
Dow Chemical has any accountability in this fiasco. It has
also come to my attention that DC still produces a derivative
of AO and peddles it to this day. Just the knowledge is
perplexing to me. Does anybody care...???

In Response

by: Bob from: TN
August 04, 2012 11:30 AM
The fact some forms of Agent orange is still produced is not the issue, the agent orange itself in fact was not the problem. it had been used domestically since the 40's without a problem. the bastards at monsanto, are the real reason for what happen.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid