Monday, September 10, 2012

US dioxin cleanup politically driven
By Wayne Dwernychuk
The author is an environmental scientist in British Columbia, Canada.
For over three decades, the US has claimed that no proof exists that the use of Agent Orange by their military during the Vietnam War is the cause of significant health complications in Vietnamese citizens who may have been exposed to the herbicide.

Vietnamese scientists, shortly after the cessation of hostilities between the two countries in 1975, described an increase in human birth defects and other health-related issues in areas sprayed with Agent Orange. The Vietnamese were convinced that Agent Orange was the prime stimulus for observed abnormalities in human birth and immunological disruptions causing deterioration in human health.

The US refused to accept data generated by Vietnamese scientists on the basis that their research did not meet Western standards of rigor. As a consequence, a stalemate has existed for these many years between the two countries, and has been a continuing barrier to completely normalize diplomatic relations between the US and Vietnam.

The Global Times published an article, "Agent Orange cleanup overdue, and not enough for real justice," on August 27. The article provides a correct overview of the problem of dioxin contamination, and the long-term activities and costs associ cleanup objectives.

My question, however, is this: If the US maintains and advances the mantra of that there is no proof that Agent Orange or dioxin has caused any human health issues in Vietnam, why then is the US offering financial assistance to Vietnam to support cleanup efforts at Da Nang International Airport, which will undoubtedly lead to additional funding for cleanup at other former US military bases in Vietnam labeled as dioxin hot spots?


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