Hot! U.S. Government Clean-Up in Vietnam

The U.S. government is spending US$49 million in an effort to clean a deadly Agent Orange herbicide   from a former air base in Danang, Vietnam, where Americans stored, loaded, and washed chemical weapons while using the defoliant during the Vietnam War.

The project, headed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is meant to clear away some 70,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil over the next three years.

This has come from a U.S. policy “pivot” toward Asia where Washington has bid to shore up and build new alliances to counterbalance China’s rising influence in the region. According to Asia Times China and Vietnam are locked in a diplomatic disagreement over contested territories in the South China Sea and Vietnam has allowed the U.S. to dock warships at its ports while also accessing weapons and military equipment.

Both Americans and Vietnamese are believed to have suffered deformities, diseases, and death from dioxin and other herbicides which the Pentagon has used to clear jungles. The U.S. Veteran Administration has paid billions of dollars to Americans involved in the Vietnam War who later suffered illness suspected of being caused by dioxin.

In 1994, retired US Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr said in an interview he ordered millions of gallons of Agent Orange to be sprayed in Vietnam and would do so again, even though he later believed the dioxin caused his son, a patrol boat commander, to die from cancer.

The Vietnam Red Cross estimated that about 4.5 million Vietnamese people were affected by the chemical, including 150,000 children.

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