VietNamNet Bridge – Positive signs were shown in April 2012 in the implementation of the plan to detoxify the dioxin-stricken land and its people.
The war finished 37 years, but this page of history has left a big impression in Vietnamese people. The herbicides war ended in 1972 already, but 76.9 million liters of defoliants, including 49.3 million liters of Agent Orange that the US military sprayed over Vietnam continues to threaten Vietnamese people and land. In the last many years, scientists have been continuing their works of detoxifying the land to return a normal life to local people.
| At the Bien Hoa airport |
Reports showed that at least 234,780 tons of soil has been seriously contaminated with dioxin found in three “hot spots” that need to be dealt with. These are the airports and US military base – the Bien Hoa airport in Dong Nai province, Da Nang, and Phu Cat in Binh Dinh province – the land areas which were once used as the places for gathering herbicide, causing serious dioxin contamination.
Dr Mick Saito, Senior Consultant of UNDP, said the project on treating the environmental pollution in hot spots of Vietnam funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) will help minimize the damages to ecosystems and human health, due to leakage of dioxin into the environment from polluted hot spots.
In the months of the dry season earlier this year, about 5400 cubic meters of dioxin contaminated soil in the Phu Cat Airport in Binh Dinh province was buried. This is one of the objectives of the project mentioned above, according to Dr Nguyen My Hang, head of international cooperation division of the Office of National Steering Committee for overcoming the consequences of toxic chemicals used by the US in the Vietnam War (Committee 33).
The US military used the Phu Cat airport as the place for gathering the aircrafts spraying herbicides during the war. The process of loading chemicals, washing aircrafts before and after dioxin spraying has led to the serious dioxin contamination in four areas. The environmental restoration needs to be carried out at the same time with the construction of landfills.
The bioremediation technology to clean dioxin contaminated soil - also known as the "active landfill technology" – has provided a safe way to clean soil at low costs, suitable to the current Vietnamese scientific and technological conditions.
In 1999, a work team from the Institute of Biotechnology under the Academy of Science and Technology of Vietnam--headed by Prof Dr Dang Thi Cam Ha, began the research work on the bioremediation technology to detoxify herbicides/dioxin left from the war.
Scientists from the Institute of Biotechnology and other specialized institutes of Academy of Science and Technology of Vietnam, in cooperation with the officers of the Ministry of Defense later proved the success of the technology after 27 months of carrying out treatment, analysis and periodic review in 4 points.
They successfully cleaned the herbicides/dioxin contaminated soil in Bien Hoa airport, with the residues of dioxin below the permitted level for agricultural and non-agricultural land.
The specialists undertaking the project on treating the environmental pollution in hot spots of Vietnam, affirmed at a recent conference that the rates of diseases, particularly cancers, reproductive accidents, birth defects suffered by offspring and grandchildren of those exposed to dioxin are higher than that of the groups of people who did not contact Agent Orange.
In April 2012, a workshop on building up the media campaign on preventing the exposure to Agent Orange/Dioxin in Vietnam took place. Dr Le Ke Son, director of the Committee 33 Office, said develop communication strategies on prevention of exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin means improving the quality of information on the harmful effects of Agent Orange/dioxin, the risk to the environment and people’s health.
Source: Dai Doan Ket