US starts first Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam
HANOI, Aug 9 — The United States and Vietnam today began cleaning up the toxic chemical defoliant Agent Orange on part of Danang International Airport, marking the first time Washington has been involved in cleaning up Agent Orange in Vietnam.
The US military sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant onto Vietnam’s jungles over a 10-year period during the Vietnam War, and the question of compensation for the subsequent health problems is a major post-war issue.
Respiratory cancer and birth defects among both Vietnamese and US veterans have been linked to exposure to Agent Orange.
The US government is providing US$41 million (RM127.1 million) to the project, which will reduce the contamination level in 73,000 cubic metres of soil by late 2016, the ruling Vietnam Communist Party’s mouthpiece Nhan Dan daily said.
The US Agency for International Development has awarded contracts to two US companies to work on the project along with Vietnam defence ministry officials, the US embassy said.
Danang in Vietnam’s central region is a popular tourist destination. During the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975, the beach city was used as a recreational spot for US soldiers.
Agent Orange was stored at Danang airbase and sprayed from US warplanes to expose northern communist troops and destroy their supplies in jungles along the border with Laos. — Reuters