Vietnam and the US on December 5 kicked off a dioxin remediation project costing US$390 million at Bien Hoa Airbase, which was used to be a base of American troops.
|Senior officials break ground for the US$390-million project. Photo: USAID
The US government has committed US$300 million to restoring the airbase and surrounding areas, which will take 10 years to complete.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Vietnam’s Air Defense Air Force Command (ADAFC), the Ministry of National Defense, and the National Action Center for Chemical and Environmental Treatment (NACCET) celebrated the commencement of the project.
|The signing of US$65-million project for persons with disabilities. Photo: USAID
The groundbreaking ceremony marked the attendance of Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vice Minister of National Defense, US Chargé d’Affaires to Vietnam Caryn R. McClelland, US Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Marie Damour, and USAID/Vietnam Mission Director Michael Greene.
Speaking at the ceremony, Chargé d’Affaires McClelland stated: “Not only will we work to reduce risk and ensure the safety of surrounding communities, we will again demonstrate to the world the incredible example of the United States-Vietnam relationship, where former foes chose to partner, overcome the past, and pave the way toward a future of friendship and mutual prosperity.”
|The dioxin cleanup proejct will last for 10 years. Photo: USAID
On the same day, the two sides inked an agreement to implement a US$65 million program to support persons with disabilities in eight priority provinces over the next five years. USAID plans to strengthen Vietnam’s rehabilitation system and community support networks to ensure that all persons with disabilities have the opportunity to fully participate in society while improving their overall quality of life.
In a press release, the US Embassy in Hanoi said this was a significant milestone in the US-Vietnam relationship.
ADAFC has handed over 37 hectares of the western portion of the airbase (known as Pacer Ivy) to USAID to begin ground operations for the dioxin remediation at Bien Hoa Airbase Project.
USAID-supported work crews have built roads, constructed gates and offices, and initiated land clearance and survey activities. The objective is to first eliminate the risk of further dioxin migration off base, working with Dong Nai authorities to clean areas off base, and then to treat and contain contaminated soils.