U.S. Agent Orange/Dioxin Assistance to Vietnam

U.S. assistance to Vietnam for the environmental and health damage attributed to a dioxin contained in Agent Orange and other herbicides sprayed over much of the southern portion of the country during the Vietnam War remains a significant bilateral issue. Between fiscal years (FY) 2007 and 2021, Congress appropriated nearly $390 million to address these two issues. This includes $60 million in Department of Defense funds transferred to the Secretary of State, for use by the U.S. Agency for International Development, for the dioxin clean-up at the Bien Hoa airbase.approximately 90,000 cubic meters (118,000 cubic yards) of contaminated soil and 60,000 cubic meters (78,000 cubic yards) of lower risk materials at Danang airport by a process known as inpile thermal desorption (IPTD). Restoration and project closure operations were completed in November 2018. The project took six years, with an estimated overall cost of $116 million, which was twice as long and three times more expensive than originally projected.Field studies have identified a number of other areas in Vietnam contaminated with the dioxin associated with Agent Orange, including the airports near Bien Hoa and Phu Cat, as well as sections of the A Luoi Valley. In January 2018, U.S. and Vietnamese governments signed a memorandum of intent (MOI) to begin the cleanup of the Bien Hoa airport. After a one-year joint project planning process, the two governments developed a 10-year remediation plan in 2020 with an estimated cost of up to $450 million. The plan is under review by the Vietnam government.Two additional issues Congress may consider are whether to fund remediation projects at additional “hot spots” and whether to require the provision of health care and support for Vietnamese nationals with medical conditions and disabilities associated with exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin. The Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2019 (H.R. 326) would have required the Secretary of State to provide assistance to individuals in Vietnam with health issues related to exposure to Agent Orange, as well as “to institutions in Vietnam that provide health care for covered individuals.” The act would also have required the Secretary of State to provide assistance “to remediate those geographic areas of Vietnam that the Secretary determines contain high levels of Agent Orange.”    Purchase this Volume