Bien Hoa airbase has high level of dioxin contamination (Photo: VNA)
Fifty years ago the US stopped spraying Agent Orange (AO) through Vietnam, however, people still suffer from severe hereditary defects to this day, wrote a recent article published by German daily newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau (FR).
On January 7, 1971, a US Air Force aircraft took off for the last time to spray the chemical warfare agent over Vietnamese fields and forests. "Agent Orange" was the most harmful and the most widely used, the article said.
The toxic chemicals were provided by Dow Chemical, Monsanto (through Mobay, a joint subsidiary with the Federal Republic of Germany Bayer AG), and a handful of others. Dow Chemical also supplied napalm to the US armed forces until 1969.
It went on to say that by January 7, 1971, the US Air Force had flown 6,542 flights to spray more than 20 million barrels of the chemicals over Vietnam’s southern region.
More than 20 percent of the forests of in the region were "defoliated" at least once and ten million hectares of agricultural land were destroyed.
The actions were secret until the end of 1965, the article added.
It was only when inquiries were made in the US Congress that the government declared that it was by no means a chemical warfare, but that herbicides were used to destroy the crops of Vietnamese farmers in the south.
The author cited estimates of the Vietnamese Government that four million Vietnamese were exposed to AO/dioxins, with severe damage that extends to the present day.
The poisonous chemicals penetrated the soil and groundwater, while it is believed that the former US bases where the chemical barrels were stored are also contaminated.
After long disputes, started in the 1990s, some of the US soldiers who suffered severe damage due to contact with dioxin received compensation. The Vietnamese victims, however, have not received any.
Although the governments of US President George W. Bush and Barack Obama had presented Vietnam close to 100 million USD for an ecological cleaning program, in 2016, the cost of cleaning a stretch of the dioxin-contaminated Passaic River in New Jersey was estimated at 1.4 billion USD, the article pointed out.VNA