Agent Orange Cleanup Begins in Vietnam

By: Sean Patterson - August 10, 2012

37 years after the fall of Saigon, the U.S. is beginning a project to help reverse some of the devastation caused by the Vietnam War. The U.S. has begun a joint project with Vietnam to clean up toxic chemicals left behind during the Vietnam War. According to the Associated Press, the $43 million project will decontaminate a former U.S. air base in Denang. The site, which is now a Vietnamese military base, is contaminated with dioxin, a toxic byproduct left over from a chemical dubbed Agent Orange. It will take four years to decontaminate the 47-acre site.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. used defoliants to devastate Vietnam’s jungles, which were used for cover by guerrillas such as the Viet Cong. Chemicals were often dumped from helicopters, as seen in the photo above. Agent Orange is the most well-known of these chemicals, and its toxicity has caused lasting damage to Vietnam’s environment and population. 20 million gallons of Agent Orange were dropped on almost 18% of Vietnam’s forests during the war. The chemical has left behind a dioxin compound that has been shown to cause cancer and birth defects.

The AP quoted U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear as saying, “We are both moving earth and taking the first steps to bury the legacies of our past.” Shear was also reported to have said the U.S. is looking at providing similar cleanup efforts at another site contaminated by Agent Orange, the former Bien Hoa U.S. air base.

This is not the first measure taken by the U.S. to mitigate the environmental and health risks posed by Agent Orange. According to the AP, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency poured six inches of concrete over the site five years ago. The new plan for the Denang site is to dig up the soil contaminated by dioxins and heat it to 635 degrees Fahrenheit. This will break the dioxin down into harmless compounds such as oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Sean Patterson

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Sean PattersonSean is a staff writer for WebProNews. Follow Sean on Google+: +Sean Patterson and Twitter: @St_Patt

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  • http://AgentOrangeCleanupBeginsinVietnam The Mad Man

    What does this do for those of us who have buried our veterans from the results of Agent Orange and the memories of what we had to go through. How do you tell the mother of a veteran who died from related results of Agent Orange (lung cancer) that her son is ‘required’ to have an autopsy to confirm his death and yes his death was confirmed as a result of Agent Orange. Do you realize that the mother (81 years of age) of this veteran who once trusted the govt, now hates the govt for what they did to her son? This was a horrible experience to go through as the caregiver of the veteran. The veteran died bravely but his mother will NEVER understand what they did to her son and has lost all faith in the govt and now seeing this ‘clean up’ just brings back the memories of those who had to bury our vets as a result of Agent Orange.

  • Len Aldis

    Would suggest that the writer Sean Patterson visits Da Nang again -if he did before writing this article. Da Nang is NOT a Vietnamese military base, but a commercial airport used by a number of international and domestic airlines, and thats only one of his errors in the article, if he cannot get that right…….