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Dec-19-2009 14:35printcomments

Hatfield Consultants Release Agent Orange Report

New Report: Comprehensive Assessment of Dioxin Contamination in Da Nang Airport, Viet Nam: Environmental Levels, Human Exposure and Options for Mitigating Impacts

Photo courtesy: The Hatfield Group

(DA NANG, Viet Nam) - A new report from Hatfield Consultants in Vietnam presents the results, conclusions and recommendations of three recent studies conducted to determine the extent and level of dioxin contamination in the environment and the exposed human populations in and around the airport in Da Nang, Viet Nam.

The 10-80 Division of Viet Nam’s Ministry of Health conducted the first of these studies in 2003-2005, while the second and third studies (in 2006 and 2009, respectively) were the responsibility of the Office of the National Steering Committee 33 of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Hatfield Consultants (West Vancouver, Canada) collaborated closely with the Vietnamese agencies on the three studies, all of which were funded by the Ford Foundation.

Da Nang was one of the key U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Operation Ranch Hand sites in Viet Nam, and was second only to Bien Hoa in terms of number of C-123 aircraft sorties and volume of herbicides stored and used. Dioxin contamination at Da Nang Airport is the result of the storage, loading, spillage and handling of Agent Orange and other toxic herbicides during the US-Viet Nam war, especially between 1965 and 1971.

A total of 410 environmental samples, including 198 soil/sediment, 41 fish/vegetation and 171 human blood and breast milk were collected and analyzed for dioxin1 and furan concentrations over the course of the Hatfield/10-80/Office 33 studies. Human tissue sampling was performed on a volunteer basis and followed internationally-accepted protocols to ensure consent of donors. All samples were analyzed at AXYS Analytical Laboratories (Sidney, BC, Canada), a WHO-accredited independent laboratory for dioxin and furan analyses. The 2005 data, consisting of soil and sediment samples, were part of a larger reconnaissance survey of former US military bases and suspected Agent Orange dioxin hot spots in southern Viet Nam. The 2006 sampling focused on soils/sediments and biosamples from the most highly contaminated areas in the northern part of the Da Nang Airport.

These earlier studies confirmed the northern area of Da Nang Airport to be a significant dioxin hot spot.

Following the 2006 study, interim mitigation measures were implemented in 2007-2008 to protect the local population from continued exposure to dioxins from the Airport.

Mitigation measures implemented with funding provided by Ford Foundation included: cessation of all fishing and agricultural activities on Sen Lake; construction of a permanent fence at the northern boundary of the Airport; capping of soils at the Former Mixing and Loading Area; and construction of interim water treatment and sediment containment facilities.

The 2009 environmental and human population studies at Da Nang Airport and in surrounding communities have provided a more complete picture of the overall dioxin contamination issue in the Da Nang area, including suspected Pacer Ivy sites in the south of the Airport.

As a result of these studies, we now have a clearer understanding of dioxin contaminated areas, exposure pathways and affected populations in Da Nang. These data will help facilitate planned remediation efforts for Da Nang Airport, which are currently being discussed between the Governments of Viet Nam and the United States.

To see the full report, visit this link.

To learn more about Hatfield's work regarding Agent Orange: Agent Orange Investigations

1 In this report, dioxin or TCDD refers specifically to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin; TEQ is based on 2005 WHO TCDD Toxic Equivalent factors (using one-half of the detection limit). PCDD and PCDF are general terms for all dioxin or furan congeners, respectively. Note that “ppt” is the same as “pg/g”.

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