New USD-73-Million Commitment for Dioxin Remediation at Bien Hoa Air Base Announced

US announces a new USD 73 million contract to clean up dioxin at Bien Hoa air base

At the hand-over ceremony. Photo: USAD
At the hand-over ceremony. Photo: USAID

US Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power, US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper, and Vice Minister of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) Senior Lieutenant General Hoang Xuan Chien on March 7 announced a new contract of up to USD 73 million to treat and clean soil at Bien Hoa Air Base.

This is the first area of the air base to be completely remediated, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced at an event to return the treated land to the southern province of Dong Nai.

The US agency also announced a new contract of over 70 million USD to treat and clean soil at the air base.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were US Consul General Susan Burns, USAID Mission Director Aler Grubbs, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia Craig Hart, and Vice Chairman of Dong Nai People’s Committee Cao Tien Dung.

Standing on a recently remediated parcel of land at Bien Hoa Air Base, the representatives marked recent progress and announced the next stage of bilateral efforts to remediate dioxin contamination.

Under the new contract, Nelson Environmental Remediation USA, an American small business, will design and build a treatment facility to decontaminate soil and sediment on and around the Bien Hoa Air base.

The first phase will treat more than 100,000 cubic meters of the total approximately 500,000 cubic meters of dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment. The Bien Hoa clean-up project was launched in April 2019 and is expected to take 10 years to complete and cost up to USD 450 million.

To date, the US government’s contribution to the Bien Hoa clean-up is USD 163.25 million, out of a total expected contribution of USD 300 million. The Bien Hoa clean-up is nearly four times the volume of a previous Da Nang Airport clean-up project, which USAID and Vietnam’s ministry completed in 2018.

A park jointly built by the Ministry of National Defence of Vietnam and USAID. Photo: USAID
A park jointly built by the Ministry of National Defence of Vietnam and USAID. Photo: USAID

In a signing ceremony, USAID officially handed over this park land to the Government of Vietnam, which marks the first decontaminated parcel of Bien Hoa Air Base to be returned to MND. Previously, USAID and MND completed the remediation of the first parcel of land, located off-base near Gate 2.

Sen. Lieut. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien, Deputy Minister of National Defence, said that the Bien Hoa air base clean-up is an important project for cooperation between the US and Vietnam in overcoming war consequences.

Vietnam still has about 4.8 million people exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin and more than 6 million hectares are still contaminated with mines and explosives, Chien said, hoping for more support from the US, USAID, other countries and international organizations to help Vietnam treat dioxin contamination at such air bases as Bien Hoa and Phu Cat.

USAID and MND officials also inaugurated a park at the site of the ceremony, installed by USAID and Vietnam’s Air Defense Air Force Command (ADAFC) with support from the US Department of Defense, to commemorate this key milestone in US-Vietnam cooperation.

Delegates plant a tree at the park. Photo: USAID
Delegates plant a tree at the park. Photo: USAID

“Our example of reconciliation will forever serve as a profound lesson to the rest of the world of what can be achieved when we move forward as trusted friends instead of foes. Let us redouble our efforts in ensuring that our bilateral partnership grows stronger and more resilient for the next 27 years and beyond,” said US Ambassador Knapper.

In December 2022, USAID began a USD 29 million program with a Vietnamese firm to complete critical preparatory work at Bien Hoa Air Base. This contract, with VINA E&C, is the largest ever from USAID’s Mission in Vietnam to a local organization.

Hannah Nguyen