Da Nang Vietnam, August 8, 2012 –– On August 9, 2012, the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will launch a joint project that will safely and completely destroy the dioxin in contaminated soils at the Da Nang airport. This announcement marks a dramatic new milestone in the collaboration between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments towards resolving the legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam 37 years after the end of the war.
Soldiers work to remove land mines from the site of one of Vietnam's most severe dioxin hot spots, a former U.S. airbase in Da Nang. This is the first step in a joint U.S.-Vietnam effort to clean up this toxic hot spot.
The August 9th launch represents the product of efforts spanning multiple agencies in both governments. It is also the result of many years of private efforts to address every aspect of the Agent Orange/dioxin legacy in Vietnam. Walter Isaacson, the U.S. co-chair of the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin and CEO of The Aspen Institute, welcomed the news:
“This ceremony marks the coming together of our two countries to achieve a practical solution to dioxin contamination. As important, the U.S. government is also devoting more resources to meeting the needs of people with disabilities in Vietnam, regardless of cause. This is a humanitarian issue we can do something about, and the Aspen Institute is proud of its role in helping to convene the Dialogue Group and advance enduring responses to the Agent Orange legacy.”
The Aspen Institute has served since 2007 as the U.S. secretariat for the Dialogue Group, which includes prominent scientists, environmental experts, and former officials from both countries. The Dialogue Group is co-chaired by Walter Isaacson and Ambassador Ha Huy Thong, vice chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Vietnam’s National Assembly and convened by Susan V. Berresford, former president of the Ford Foundation.
As a follow up to its 2010 Declaration and Plan of Action to address the Agent Orange legacy, the Dialogue Group’s June 2012 Second Year Report offers well-researched recommendations from experts in both countries for addressing the needs of people and families whose challenges may be linked to dioxin exposure, cleaning up all the remaining dioxin hotspots and restoring damaged landscapes. The Dialogue Group is hopeful that its reports will inform each government’s efforts.
The Aspen Institute’s Agent Orange in Vietnam Program (AOVP) is a multi-year project to help Americans and Vietnamese address the continuing health and environmental impact of herbicides sprayed in Vietnam during the war. The program promotes dialogue on solutions to the continuing impact of the wartime use of herbicides in Vietnam. The program provides the U.S. secretariat for the bi-national US-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin and manages the Agent Orange in Vietnam Fund supporting model projects benefiting people with disabilities in Vietnam.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.