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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs