Phu Cat Airport no longer dioxin-contaminated

Van Nam

Phu Cat Airport dioxin landfill is part of the project “Environmental remediation at the severely dioxin-contaminated sites in Vietnam” worth some US$5 million, carried out by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment since July 2010.

With this landfill, Phu Cat military airport is removed from the list of three hotspots of dioxin contamination in Vietnam, said Le Ke Son, deputy director of the Vietnam Environment Administration, at the inauguration ceremony of the dioxin landfill last Saturday.

The three dioxin contamination hotspots are Phu Cat Airport, Danang International Airport and Bien Hoa Airport. With the support of the U.S. Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the environment ministry will continue coping with dioxin contamination at Danang and Bien Hoa airports.

In wartime, Phu Cat Airport was used by the U.S. troops as a gathering place for herbicide spraying planes. The loading and washing of defoliant spraying aircraft contaminated some areas at the airport.

Meanwhile, Bien Hoa Airport was a base for Ranch Hand and Pacer Ivy projects, where over 98,000 250-liter barrels of Agent Orange, 45,000 barrels of Agent White, 16,000 barrels of Agent Blue and more than 11,000 barrels of herbicide were stored, said Son.

In a short time, from December 1969 to March 1970, at least four herbicide spill accidents occurred there, leaking some 25,000 liters.

Son said the level of dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa Airport and the chance of the toxic chemical spreading into the surrounding areas remained high. A number of aquatic creatures, especially fish living in the dioxin-contaminated lakes, and poultry raised in this area can be exposed to dioxin, putting local residents and those around Bien Hoa Airport at risk.

“The concern is many people still lack awareness, catching fish in the dioxin-contaminated ponds around Bien Hoa Airport and selling them in other areas,” Son told the Daily.

The environment ministry is studying ways to reduce dioxin contamination at Bien Hoa Airport in the coming time. Dioxin treatment at Bien Hoa is scheduled to take place from now to 2020.

The Ministry of Science and Technology is mulling a project to evaluate the impact of dioxin contamination at all airports in Vietnam to draw out a treatment plan for dioxin-affected areas.

Earlier, on August 9 this year, the project to handle some 73,000 cubic meters of soil and sediments contaminated with dioxin at Danang International Airport was kicked off with a total budget of over US$40 million, set for completion in 2016.