US and Vietnamese officials on Tuesday announced that the first phase of a US$84-million dioxin cleanup project at a former US airbase in the central city of Da Nang has been completed.
The toxic chemical was removed from 45,000 cubic meters of excavated soil and sediment at the site, US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius and Deputy Minister of Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh told the ceremony to mark the first phase’s success. The ceremony was attended by Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam.
That volume of treated soil and sediment will be given to Airports Corporation of Vietnam for being used as fill material for a project to expand Da Nang International Airport, heard the ceremony.
Under the two-phase project in Da Nang, which started in August 2012 with funds from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), thermal desorption technology has been used to heat the contaminated soil and sediment to a high temperature to destroy the dioxin.
The soil and sediment will be then tested to ensure it is no longer contaminated before being removed from the containment structure.
The second phase of the project, which will treat another 45,000 cubic meters of dioxin-contaminated excavated soil and sediment, is scheduled to begin at the end of this year.
The project is the US’s first direct involvement in cleaning up dioxin in Vietnam as both sides have worked together to mitigate the long-lasting effects of the war.
The Da Nang site is one of two dozen former American sites that remain contaminated with dioxin via Agent Orange. The US military dumped some 75 million liters of Agent Orange and other herbicides over Vietnam’s jungles during the war to destroy the ground cover and crops of Vietnamese forces.
Up to 4.8 million Vietnamese people were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals that have been linked to cancers, birth defects and other chronic diseases during the Vietnam War, according to the Vietnam Red Cross.