$250 mn needed for dioxin clearance at southern Vietnam airport

The dioxin clearance project at the Bien Hoa airport in the southern province of Dong Nai costs at least $250 million, a report says

This file photo shows U.S. environmental experts working in a dioxin clearance project at the Da Nang airport in the central city of Da Nang.

The clearance of dioxin, a toxic chemical that can cause cancer, at the Bien Hoa airport in the southern province of Dong Nai costs at least $250 million, a report says.

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The report was delivered at a seminar held by the Management Board for the Project for Handling Dioxin Hotspots in Vietnam, and the National Steering Board for Tackling Consequences of Toxic Chemicals, the body in charge of coping with the consequences of toxic chemicals used by the U.S. troops during the Vietnam War (1955-1975).

The event is aimed to assess the reality of dioxin contamination at the airport and discuss what should be done to clear the chemical, a highly toxic chemical compound that can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems and damage to the immune system.

Speaking at the meeting, Associate Professor Le Ke Son, director of the project, said the cost of dioxin clearance at the Bien Hoa airport, formerly a major military airbase of the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War, is three times more than that at the Da Nang Airport.

In order to strictly handle the entire soil contaminated with dioxin at the Bien Hoa Airport, the project needs to have a budget of at least US$250 million, Prof. Son said.

“Under the Government’s direction, the clearance of dioxin at the Bien Hoa airport must be completed by 2020, but due to many difficulties, the target will likely not be met,” he added.

The overall plan of the clearance, technologies to be used, and investment in the work have to be determined, he explained, adding that the project is just in its early stage.

Scientists also warned that the level of dioxin contamination at this airport is more complicated and more serious than at the Da Nang airport in the central city of Da Nang and at the Phu Cat airport, located in Binh Dinh Province, also in the central region.

The total area of land contaminated with dioxin at the Bien Hoa airport area may be more than 250,000 cubic meters, which will need over five years to be cleared, according to the above national steering board.

Archives showed that during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army stored over 98,000 barrels, each containing 205 liters of Agent Orange/Dioxin, at Bien Hoa airport and thousands of other barrels containing other toxic chemicals and herbicides, commonly called Agent Blue and Agent White.

The most toxic dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), was found in the soil near lakes to the north and east of the Bien Hoa airport, according to archives.

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