A group of 20 men sneak into an airbase in the southern province of Dong Nai.
They climb up a tree, jump over a fence and start to catch fish from the lakes inside Bien Hoa Airbase.
After around seven hours, they leave with more than a hundred kilograms of fish. Then they drive their motorbikes for around an hour and stop on a sidewalk to sell the fish.
Their buyers never know that the fish have been caught illegally, from lakes heavily contaminated by extremely dangerous chemicals.
The airbase, which is around 30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, is one of the sites with the severest and longest lasting dioxin pollution in the world.
During the Vietnam War, the US stored a huge amount of toxic compounds including Agent Orange, Agent White, and Agent Blue there to use as defoliants and clear the forests to attack Vietnamese revolutionary forces.
Between 1969 and 1970, 2,500 liters of Agent White and 25,000 liters of Agent Orange were dumped into the environment, including lakes, according to official figures.
Locals who live near the area said strangers from other provinces have continued catching fish there for around three or four years despite notices warning that the lakes are polluted and eating anything from them will endanger one’s health.
Locals said they are highly aware of the danger, but people coming from other places just overlook the risks.
The fishers that Thanh Nien reporters followed last Sunday said they are migrants from the Mekong Delta’s Soc Trang Province. They work at factories and go to the lakes to catch fish during the weekend.
“No one ever stopped us,” one of them said.