Agent Orange Cleanup Begins

US starts landmark Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam
Mike Ives, Associated Press, August 8, 2012

Last week, the US began cleaning up dioxin from Agent Orange that was stored at a former military base in Danang, where the defoliant Agent Orange was stored during the Vietnam War.  Dioxin, a persistent chemical linked to cancer, birth defects, and other disabilities, has contaminated Vietnam’s soils and watersheds, creating a lasting legacy of the war that ended almost four decades ago.

Although the US continues to dispute Hanoi's claim that between 3 million to 4 million Vietnamese were affected by the chemical that was sprayed by US planes to eliminate jungle cover for guerrilla fighters, the $43 million project has gotten underway as Vietnam and the US forge closer economic and military ties.

Over the past five years, Congress has appropriated about $49 million for environmental remediation and about $11 million to help people living with disabilities in Vietnam regardless of cause. Experts have identified three former US air bases — in Danang in central Vietnam and the southern locations of Bien Hoa and Phu Cat — as hotspots where Agent Orange was mixed, stored, and loaded onto planes. The US military dumped some 20 million gallons (75 million liters) of Agent Orange and other herbicides on about a quarter of former South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971.

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