This was an important event in Vietnam-US relations and demonstrated the joint efforts of overcoming the war aftermath in Vietnam for the two countries, contributing to realizing the Joint Statement of the Vietnamese and US senior leaders during the official visit to Vietnam in 2017 by US President Donald Trump.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh speaking at the event

Addressing the ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh confirmed that the Party, State and government of Vietnam always consider overcoming consequences of war an urgent task. Such humanitarian and human activities help ensure a healthy and safe life, a clean environment for the Vietnamese people and contribute to the sustainable socio-economic development of the nation.

The Vietnamese governmental leader highlighted the dioxin remediation project at Bien Hoa Airbase as a vivid illustration of the US’s strong commitment to joining hands with Vietnam in the post-war recovery efforts.

He also requested the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense to work with relevant agencies to promote the implementation of the project while ensuring safety for people and the environment during the detoxification process. The ministry was also asked to seek more support for the post-war recovery work.

At the ground-breaking ceremony

In his speech, Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh emphasized the need to ensure safety for the personnel and the environment in a large dioxin-contaminated area like Bien Hoa Airbase. General Vinh believed that with the experience gained from the similar project at Da Nang Airport, the project will be successful.

For her part, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Vietnam Caryn R. McClelland noted the project’s significance to minimize risks and ensure safety for surrounding communities. She said that the joint implementation of the project is a notable example of the fine partnership between Vietnam and the US, who were once enemies but are now trying to overcome the past and pave the way toward a future of friendship and prosperity.

Through a video, US Senator Patrick Leahy, who has spent 30 years doing post-war recovery activities and expanding the Vietnam-US relations, highly valued the project after the successful cooperation between USAID and the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defense in an effort to clean up the polluted environment at Da Nang Airport. The US Senator said that it is an unprecedented achievement recorded by both countries.

The Vietnamese Air Defense – Air Force Service has handed over 37ha of the airbase’s Western portion to USAID to start field operations for the project. The objective is to first eliminate the risk of further dioxin migration off base, clean areas off base with assistance from Dong Nai authorities, and treat and contain contaminated soils.

Also at the ceremony, USAID and NACCET signed an agreement on implementing a USD 65 million program to support people with disabilities in eight priority provinces in the next five years. Under the agreement, the USAID will work with the Vietnamese Government to strengthen the rehabilitation system of Vietnam and community support networks to ensure that all people with disabilities have opportunities to fully participate in social activities and have their living standard improved.

* Bien Hoa Airbase is the hottest spot for dioxin pollution in Vietnam. On base, almost 500,000 cubic meters of dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment are in need of remediation, four times higher than the volume that was remediated at Da Nang Airport.

* The Dioxin Remediation at Bien Hoa Airbase Project, at a total cost of over USD 390 million, is expected to be completed in the next 10 years.

Translated by Mai Huong