HANOI -- Expectations are growing that Japanese technology will help erase one of the darkest legacies of the Vietnam War -- the lingering presence of Agent Orange.
Although 40 years have passed since the end of the war, areas of Vietnam remain highly contaminated with the chemical defoliant used by the U.S. military in its herbicidal warfare program.
During the war, the U.S. military had an airfield in Bien Hoa in the southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai, located about an hour's drive from Ho Chi Minh City. The airfield, which is currently used by the Vietnamese Air Force, is "the most dioxin-contaminated place in the world," according to Vietnamese daily Bao Thanh Nien.
U.S. military planes that sprayed chemical defoliants containing dioxins and other toxic substances were washed at the airfield after returning from their missions. The location has remained highly contaminated, possibly because the water used to wash the planes penetrated deep into the soil, carrying contaminants with it.
Areas around the former U.S. air bases in Da Nang and Phu Cat, in the central and southern parts of Vietnam, respectively, are highly contaminated for similar reasons. Along with Bien Hoa, they are known as the "three hot spots."