For the first time, the United States is helping to clean up Agent Orange contamination – a toxic relic of the Vietnam war.
The countries have launched a joint project to remove the herbicide from Danang airbase in central Vietnam. It was stored there before being sprayed over jungles by the US during the conflict.
“This process uses high temperatures to break down the dioxin in the contaminated soil and make it safe by Vietnamese and US standards for the many men, women and children who live and work in this area,” said David Shear, the US Ambassador to Vietnam, at a launch ceremony at Danang airport.
“The dioxin in the ground here is a legacy of the painful past we share but the project we undertake here today, hand in hand with the Vietnamese is, as Secretary Clinton said, a sign of the hopeful future we are building together.”
US forces sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant over a 10-year period to expose northern communist troops and destroy their supplies.
Respiratory cancer and birth defects have been linked to exposure. Nearly 40 years after the war ended, the question of compensation for the subsequent health problems remains a major source of contention.