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Thursday, November 14, 2019, 07:00 (GMT+7)
Chemical Corps enhances its capability of Agent Orange/Dioxin decontamination

Resolutely decontaminate the whole area being contaminated by Agent Orange (AO)/Dioxin is of socio-political and humanitarian meaning, a “combat mission” in peacetime of the chemical troops. Fully aware of this, the Chemical Corps has been implementing a number of measures to enhance its capability and accelerate the process of decontamination, overcome the chemical remnants contributing to alleviating the AO/Dioxin consequences.

Vietnam is among the most heavily affected countries by AO/Dioxin contamination. In Vietnam War, the US military used as much as 80 million liters of herbicide, in which 61% is AO equivalent to 366 kg dioxin to spray in the Southern battlefield, causing severe consequences to all aspects of life, especially to the people.

Realizing the matter, our Party and State have carried out a number of measures for leading and directing the cleanup and alleviation of AO/Dioxin consequences in which considerable amount of resources have been invested for this important task. As a specialized force for dealing with toxic chemicals, radioactives, and environmental pollution, over the past years, the Chemical Corps has assisted the Ministry of National Defence to make recommendations for the Government to build plans and policies and direct the settlement of consequences of toxic chemicals in general and AO/Dioxin in particular. At the same time, it has directly deployed a number of technological solutions to overcome the consequences and gained important results. Especially, it has successfully fulfilled its supervisory role in Da Nang Airport Remediation Project implemented by the Ministry of National Defence of Viet Nam with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a project's partner and now the two similar projects at Bien Hoa airbase.

Chemical troops practise overcoming an environmental incident

However, due to the huge amount and complexity of contaminated areas, while domestic resources, budget, technology and equipment are limited, in order to accelerate the process of decontamination, the Corps is implementing the following measures in a drastic and synchronous manner:

First, well performing the function as a consultative organ to the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence on measures for surveying, remediating and overcoming the consequences of toxic chemicals left by war. Grasping and seriously adhere to the resolutions, directives of the Party, Government, Central Military Commission and Ministry of National Defence on overcoming the toxic chemicals left by war and protecting the environment, as a member of the permanent office of the Steering Committee 701 – National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-War Unexploded Ordnance  and Toxic Chemical Consequences  , the Chemical Corps is coordinating closely with the related ministries, branches and functional agencies to study and advise the Party, Government, Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defence to issue legal documents to enhance the efficacy and effectiveness of management and coordination of projects on settling and overcoming AO/Dioxin consequences. In order to mobilise more resources, budget, technology, etc. for this operation, Chemical Corps will coordinate with both civilian and military agencies to advise the Steering Committee 701 to propose the Government plans to strengthen international cooperation in the field of AO/Dioxin decontamination; seek for assistance and cooperation from foreign governments, NGOs in applying and transferring of technology in the decontamination; accelerate the implementation of the Decree No. 761/QĐ-TTg dated 21st June 2019 of the Prime Minister on the establishment and operation of the National Action Centre for Overcoming Toxic Chemical and Environment Consequences (NACCEC). In addition, it will actively advise the Steering Committee, ministries, functional bodies and localities to strengthen publicity and education about the AO/Dioxin contamination reality and the implementation of the decontamination projects, etc., thereby, enhancing the awareness and responsibility of levels, sectors and domestic organizations and international partners for the mission of decontamination and alleviation of AO/Dioxin and its consequences in Vietnam.

Second, building and improving the capability of the scientists to meet the requirements of the mission. To meet the mission requirements in the coming time, basing on the plan for developing the human resource, especially the high quality personnel, that has been approved, the Corps will continue to direct its affiliated offices and units to review and develop a contingent of high quality personnel and top experts in the field of settling toxic chemicals left by  war and responding to and dealing with environmental incidents. It will cooperate with military and civilian academies and schools to improve the quality of training and send its cadres to the Dioxin-intensive training courses held and supported by international organizations and have them participate in the scientific and technological transfer projects. At the same time, it will apply  suitable mechanism and policies to attract high quality personnel with suitable majors, political ethics, expertise and required level of foreign language.

Third, proactively mobilising resources for investment in facilities serving for the task of cleanup toxic chemicals left by war. To improve the level of decontamination, together with preparation in human resource, the Corps attaches special importance to mobilising resources for the procurement of modern specialised facilities. In the short run, implementing the Directive 05/CT-BQP dated 3rd February 2017 of the Minister of National Defence on “Implementing the Dioxin decontamination projects in the Military”, the Corps actively coordinate with the Military Science Department, the Military Science and Technology Institute, the Vietnam – Russia Tropical Centre and the Military Medical Academy to accelerate the process of the Project on enhancing the capability for Dioxin research and decontamination. Emphasis is placed on the upgradation of laboratories, workshops and centres for settling Dioxin and assisting Dioxin victims, etc. Besides, it will continue to have investments in the monitoring stations  to improve the level of assessing the affect and controlling the emerging sources of contamination which are the essential grounds for settlement and prevention.

Fourth, strengthening scientific research, international cooperation with a focus on mastering AO/Dioxin decontamination technology. Over the past years, the Corps has carried out several scientific projects on technology and chosen the suitable technology for decontamination and gained initial results. Basing on the achievements and its supervisory outcomes from the projects in Da Nang, Bien Hoa, Phu Cat, Binh Dinh airbases, it will continue to lead and direct its offices and units, directly the Military Chemical and Environment Institute to foster research and application of AO/Dioxin related technology researching outcomes into practice so that the contaminated areas will be resolutely decontaminated with lower cost and the environment will not be suffered from secondary contamination. Furthermore, it will strengthen cooperation in experimenting the outcomes of the Project “Studying to choose the technology for resolutely decontaminating Dioxin in the soil and sediment suitable with Vietnam’s condition” in order to perfect and popularise the technology for resolutely treating AO/Dioxin contaminated soil and sediments and other toxic organic substances. In addition, it will focus on the cooperation with Shimizu Group of Japan  in the experiment of soil washing technology and with the Shimizu and Terra Therm (US-based) Joint Operation in the experiment of thermal treatment technology or Dioxin contaminated soil in Bien Hoa airbase; coordinate with the Belgium-based Haemers Corporation in the experiment of Dioxin thermal desorption technology to find the best technology for Dioxin decontamination in Vietnam so that by 2020 50% of the contaminated area in the hot spots will be treated and controlled and by 2030 all the contaminated areas at the hot spots will be completely treated, contributing to the alleviation of AO/Dioxin consequences with the entire Party and people and creating favourable environment for socio-economic development.

Major General Ha Van Cu, Commander of the Corps

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