Fifty years after American planes first sprayed Vietnam’s thick jungles with Agent Orange to destroy enemy cover, the United States began for the first time cleaning up dioxin left from the chemical defoliant.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday at a former U.S. air base in Danang.
Dioxin, a chemical linked to cancer, birth defects and other disabilities, has seeped into Vietnam’s soils and watersheds, creating a war legacy that remains a thorny issue between the former foes nearly four decades after the Vietnam War ended.
Washington has been slow to respond. Since 2007 it has given about $60 million for environmental restoration and social services in Vietnam, but this is its first direct involvement in dioxin cleanup.