Vietnam-U.S. Joint Advisory Committee Highlights Bilateral Cooperation on Agent Orange
HANOI, September 24, 2012 -- Vietnamese and U.S. experts deepened their dialogue and commitment to explore feasible solutions to dealing with issues related Agent Orange/dioxin at a two-day meeting in Hanoi.
On September 20 and 21, 2012, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) hosted the seventh meeting of the Vietnam-U.S. Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) on Agent Orange. The JAC has met annually since 2006 to provide scientific advice to the Vietnamese and U.S. governments on cleanup of dioxin contamination and research on health issues associated with dioxin.
U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David B. Shear highlighted progress made in bilateral cooperation to help Vietnam respond to environmental and health challenges related to Agent Orange since the previous JAC meeting in September 2011.
“Last month, our two countries launched a project to clean up the dioxin contamination in Danang,” he said. “This project is a significant milestone in our joint efforts to address the legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam, and it is thanks in large part to the common ground we have forged through these talks, along with the support of political leaders in the U.S. like Senator Patrick Leahy.”
On August 9, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a joint project to clean up dioxin contamination at Danang airport, one of three “hotspots” in Vietnam contaminated by dioxin from Agent Orange.
Prior to the JAC meeting, JAC members visited the other two hotspots at Bien Hoa and Phu Cat airbases. During the meeting, JAC members reviewed the landfill built by MONRE and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Phu Cat to deal with dioxin contamination there. They also reviewed plans by MND to clean up dioxin contamination in Bien Hoa and ongoing efforts by MONRE and UNDP to address the contamination on an interim basis and study new cleanup technologies. USAID announced that it would complement MONRE-UNDP efforts and conduct an environmental assessment to determine the extent of contamination in Bien Hoa and assess scientifically-proven cleanup technologies.
The JAC is composed of scientists and officials from MONRE, MND, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology from Vietnam and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Defense, Department of State, and USAID from the United States. It is co-chaired by Dr. Le Ke Son, Director General of the Office of National Steering Committee 33, MONRE, and Dr. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Director, National Exposure Research Laboratory, EPA.