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Dioxin cleanup at Bien Hoa Airbase to take 10 years
The Saigon Times Daily
Saturday,  Feb 16, 2019,12:40 (GMT+7)

Dioxin cleanup at Bien Hoa Airbase to take 10 years

The Saigon Times Daily

General Ngo Xuan Lich (R, 1st),Minister of National Defense, and other ministry representatives inspect samples from the dioxin cleanup project at Bien Hoa Airbase in Dong Nai Province on February 15 – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC - The clean-up of dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa Airbase in the southern province of Dong Nai will take an estimated ten years for completion, with total costs reaching some US$390 million, the local media reported.

General Ngo Xuan Lich, Minister of National Defense and deputy head of the National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-war Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences, met with the airbase’s management board for the dioxin cleanup project at the airbase on February 15. The meeting also gathered representatives of ministries, agencies and local authorities.

The Bien Hoa Airbase area is the largest remaining hotspot of dioxin contamination in Vietnam. Some 52 hectares of land at the airbase contains 515,000 cubic meters of dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment, including sites with high concentrations of dioxin, as well as locations where the U.S. military stored barrels of toxic chemicals during the Vietnam War, officials from the Military Science Department under the Ministry of National Defense said, citing evaluation results of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vietnam’s Institute of Military Science and Technology.

The first phase of the dioxin cleanup project will begin in April, according to General Lich. Therefore, the steering committee, the management board and agencies should prepare a roadmap for the clean-up, including applying technologies and estimates for funding. Additionally, the U.S. should assume its responsibilities by participating in the dioxin cleanup at the airbase, said the general.

The clean-up costs may be relatively high since the volume of soil and sediment contaminated with dioxin at the airbase is threefold higher than that recorded at Danang International Airport. Additionally, the dioxin cleanup will affect local neighboring households.

Many people involved in the project voiced their concern over the slow progress and a possible financial shortfall to carry out the project, due to complicated treatment technologies and cumbersome procedures.

Earlier, USAID signed an agreement with Vietnam's Air Defense-Air Force Command to provide a grant of US$183 million to serve clean-up activities at the airbase during an initial five-year period, from 2018 to 2023.

Over the past years, the State has spent hundreds of billions of Vietnam dong digging up and isolating water flows at sites on the airbase to prevent the possible spread of dioxin.

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