Issue Date: August 20, 2012 | Web Date: August 17, 2012
Former Foes To Collaborate On Agent Orange Site Remediation
Nearly four decades after the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. and Vietnam have begun a joint cleanup operation at Da Nang International Airport, the site of a former U.S. military base that remains contaminated with dioxin.
“This morning we celebrate a milestone in our bilateral relationship,” U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David B. Shear said at a ceremony earlier this month attended by senior officers of the Vietnamese military. “We’re cleaning up this mess.”
The airfield was used by the U.S. military to store barrels of Agent Orange, a mixture of (2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid and (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxy)acetic acid that was sprayed on vegetation used as cover by guerrilla forces. The 2,4,5-T used in the defoliant was later discovered to be contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), a toxic compound that has been linked to birth defects and cancers and other diseases.
More than two dozen former U.S. military bases have been referred to as “hot spots” by the Vietnamese government because of the dioxin concentrations remaining in the soil at these sites.
At Da Nang, 73,000 m3 of soil around the airport will be excavated and treated with thermal desorption technology.
“This process uses high temperatures to break down the dioxin in the contaminated soil and make it safe by Vietnamese and U.S. standards for the many men, women, and children who live and work in this area,” Shear remarked. The project is expected to be complete by 2016.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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