HANOI (Reuters) – The United States and Vietnam on Thursday began cleaning up the toxic chemical defoliant Agent Orange on part of Danang International Airport, marking the first time Washington has been involved in cleaning up Agent Orange in Vietnam.The U.S. military sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant onto Vietnam’s jungles over a 10-year period during the Vietnam War, and the question of compensation for the subsequent health problems is a major post-war issue.
Respiratory cancer and birth defects amongst both Vietnamese and U.S. veterans have been linked to exposure to Agent Orange.
The U.S. government is providing $41 million to the project which will reduce the contamination level in 73,000 cubic meters of soil by late 2016, the ruling Vietnam Communist Party’s mouthpiece Nhan Dan daily said.
The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded contracts to two U.S. companies to work on the project along with Vietnam defence ministry officials, the U.S. embassy said.
Danang in Vietnam’s central region is a popular tourist destination. During the Vietnam War, that ended in 1975, the beach city was used as a recreational spot for U.S. soldiers.
Agent Orange was stored at Danang airbase and sprayed from U.S. warplanes to expose northern communist troops and destroy their supplies in jungles along the border with Laos.
(Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Michael Perry)
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