A ceremony, held by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Vietnam Defence-Air Force Service and the National Action Centre for Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Treatment (NACCET), was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Vietnam Caryn R. McClelland, and representatives from ministries and sectors.
USAID plans to clean up 37 hectares at the airbase. The objective is to first eliminate the risk of further dioxin migration off base, working with Dong Nai authorities to clean up surrounding areas, and treating contaminated soil.
The US has government committed US$300 million to restoring the airbase and its surrounding areas, which will take 10 years to complete.
Speaking at the event, Deputy PM Binh hailed the efforts of Vietnamese and US experts for their meticulous preparations for the project.
Over 3.6 million hectares of forest were destroyed while 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange/Dioxin, he said, adding that the toxic chemical was still taking its toll on the third generation.
He highlighted the project at Bien Hoa Airbase was an illustration of US commitment to work with Vietnam on the post-war recovery efforts.
He ordered the Ministry of National Defence to co-ordinate with relevant ministries, sectors and localities to remove bottlenecks to accelerate the implementation of the project, while working to ensure safety during the detoxification process.
McClelland said the project at Bien Hoa Airbase was being carried out following the successful detoxification of Da Nang Airport, and was a notable example of the sound partnership between Vietnam and the US, who were trying to overcome the past and pave the way towards a future of friendship and prosperity.
Located about 30km from HCM City, Bien Hoa was a major US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine base during the war. In 2016, USAID, in partnership with the Government of Vietnam, completed an assessment of dioxin contamination at the airbase. The assessment identified almost 500,000 cubic metres of dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment in need of remediation – almost four times the volume that was treated at Da Nang Airport.
On the occasion, Deputy PM Binh and the US diplomat witnessed the signing of an agreement to implement a $65 million programme to support people with disabilities in eight priority provinces over the next five years between USAID and NACCET.
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