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Press Release

Vietnam Begins UXO Clearance to Prepare Dioxin Clean-up Effort in Danang

DANANG, Vietnam, June 17, 2011 – Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) today officially began activities to detect and remove unexploded ordnance (UXO) to prepare for U.S.-supported remediation of dioxin contamination at Danang Airport.

The UXO clearance is one of the activities conducted and funded by the MND as part of Vietnam’s contribution to the remediation program. This effort is a key first step in a project implemented by the Defense Ministry and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to clean up the dioxin contaminated soil and sediment at the airport. Certain areas on the Danang Airport site are one of three dioxin “hotspots” in Vietnam.  In May, USAID and the MND signed an agreement to strengthen collaboration and set out a road map for implementation of dioxin clean-up efforts at Danang Airport.

“The successful implementation of this project will remove dioxin from 29 hectares of soil that can be used for economic and commercial activities, and reduce human exposure to the chemical and potential health impacts, while marking the development of the good relationship between the two governments and people of Vietnam and the United States,” said Major General Do Minh Tuan, Deputy Commander, Air Force – Air Defense Command.

“The clearance of unexploded ordnance by the Ministry of National Defense is an excellent example of the strong collaborative relationship our two governments have built on the dioxin remediation project,” said U.S. Charge d’affaires a.i., Virginia Palmer.

The governments of the United States and Vietnam have worked together since 2001 to address environmental and health issues related to dioxin contamination from Agent Orange. Since 2007, the U.S. government has appropriated nearly $42 million for environmental remediation, health, and disabilities activities in Danang in addition to other programs throughout Vietnam. Also, since 1989, the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program has provided $37 million to clear UXO, which has contributed to a significant drop in post-conflict casualties, returned arable land to safe, productive use, and increased Vietnam’s national capacity to deal with explosive hazards.  The U.S. Government has also provided $43 million to help survivors of UXO accidents.  U. S. assistance in these regards continues.

The full text of the remarks by U.S. Charge d’Affaires Virginia Palmer, as prepared, can be found here: http://vietnam.usembassy.gov/cda_speech061711.html

Photos from the event can be downloaded from here: http://goo.gl/lwub2 (if published please credit: Photo by USAID/Richard Nyberg)