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Vietnamese firm join biggest US-funded dioxin cleanup project
Minh Nguyen 08:05, 2022/12/23
This is the biggest contract awarded to a Vietnamese firm in the biggest dioxin remediation project costing a total of US$450 million.

The United States Mission to Vietnam has awarded a contract worth approximately US$29 million for VINA E&C Investment and Construction JSC (VINA E&C) to join dioxin cleanup at Bien Hoa Air Base, in the south of Vietnam.

 Excavation, dewatering and drainage, stockpile, transport for low concentration soil at Bien Hoa Airbase. Photos: VINA E&C

Bien Hoa Airbase Area, the primary Agent Orange storage and handling site during the US-Vietnam War and the largest remaining dioxin hotspot in Vietnam.

The four-year contract for civil works marks the biggest contract yet by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to a local Vietnamese organization to build Vietnamese expertise in the area of joint concerns.

“It is an honor to be selected to lead the next phase of the joint cooperative project between the US and Vietnam governments to remediate dioxin at Bien Hoa Air Base,” said Vu Van Liem, General Director of VINA E&C. “This contract is a great opportunity for VINA to continue achieving project progress. We look forward to applying our specialized expertise to meet the project’s high safety and health requirements and technical specifications, and contribute to the overall success of the project.”

Under the contract, VINA E&C will complete the excavation of contaminated soil on the air base and prepare it for treatment.

“This announcement represents the United States’ commitment to our partnership with Vietnam,” said Aler Grubbs, USAID/Vietnam Mission Director. “This contract will complete critical preparatory work, paving the way for the treatment phase of the project.”

USAID is working with Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense to remediate approximately 500,000 cubic meters of dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment on and around the Bien Hoa Air Base in a project launched in April 2019.

The whole project is expected to take both sides 10 years and cost an estimated US$450 million. To date, the US Government has contributed $163 million out of a total expected contribution of $300 million.

Throughout 2020, USAID and the ministry worked together to gather and analyze more site data on topography, baseline environmental conditions, and soil pollution. The information was used to direct the design work for comprehensive excavation and treatment.

These evaluations served as the basis for the two excavation and construction contracts that USAID awarded. Initial excavation efforts concentrated on regions where contamination posed greater health and environmental dangers due to its proximity to the airbase and the nearby community.

USAID previously completed the clean-up of dioxin contamination at Danang Airport in 2018. The Bien Hoa clean-up effort involves nearly four times the volume of soil in Danang.

 Remediation work at Bien Hoa Air Base.

Remediating dioxin-contaminated areas in Vietnam signals great efforts by both sides to overcome the legacies of war, which is defined as one of three pillars together with trade and regional security in the term by US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper.  

Addressing war legacies advocates for increased US engagement and financial support to clean up the known dioxin hotspots in Vietnam, of which there are over 20. These now-designated hotspots were former US military bases in Vietnam. More is needed to research the extent of contamination at other potential hotspots throughout southern Vietnam and Laos.

Addressing war legacies calls for stronger US involvement and financial assistance to clean up more than 20 recognized dioxin hotspots in Vietnam which are former US military bases. More study is required to determine the degree of contamination at other potential hotspots in the country.

The Vietnamese government hopes to complete all cleanup projects of hotspots by 2030.

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