On the occasion of the international conference held recently to review the coordination between the permanent Office of the National Steering Committee on Overcoming War Consequences of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Toxic Chemicals in Vietnam (Office 701), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the People’s Army Newspaper’s reporter had an interview with PhD Than Thanh Cong, Chief of Office 701 on drawn lessons.

PhD Than Thanh Cong

Reporter: Could you please brief us on the engagement of Vietnamese Central and local sectors in the implementation of the Project?

PhD Than Thanh Cong: During the implementation of the Project, there has been close and synchronous coordination among ministries and sectors at both central and local levels, particularly with the participation of the Ministry of National Defense (in charge of land management), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (state management of environment), the Ministry of Science and Technology (management of science and technology), the Ministry of Planning and Investment (state management of the economic efficiency of the Project), the Ministries of Health and Transport, the People’s Committee of Da Nang City and more.

The effective cooperation was demonstrated via the information provision and sharing between involved parties for the evaluation of scope, scale, and level of remediation and the definition of the Project’s goals. The Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment and National Defense have worked closely with each other to determine the scale and scope to deal with dioxin contamination to meet Vietnam’s environmental standards.

The efficient cooperation was also reflected in the supervision and evaluation of the project’s results in line with Vietnam and US laws, as well as the two sides’ cooperation in handing over the clean land to the local authority for local socio-economic development and future expansion of Da Nang airport.

Reporter: What are the lessons drawn from the international cooperation, especially with the US in implementing the Project?

PhD Than Thanh Cong: According to agreements between the senior leaders of Vietnam and the US, relevant agencies of Vietnam, including Office 701, the Command of Air Defense-Air Force Service as the project managers, the Chemical Corps’ Command, the Military Institute of Science and Technology, the Vietnam-Russia Tropical Center, have cooperated closely with the USAID from surveying the land, drawing up the project, to managing, supervising, realizing the project and evaluating the outcomes.

Thanks to the close coordination, the Project has achieved fruitful outcomes. The concentration of dioxin exposure in the area has been reduced to a level that does not affect local people’s health; the dioxin amount contaminated in soil has been smaller than the national criteria; and the treated land is now ready for socio-economic development and expansion of Da Nang airport.

We will further coordinate with the USAID to boost the implementation of the Project at Bien Hoa airport in the coming time.

The lessons and experiences drawn during the implementation of the Project are especially valuable for the similar Project at Bien Hoa airport. Accordingly, the two sides should first coordinate closely in defining the scope, scale of the project to avoid any possible adjustments to the Project.  They should also promote cooperation in setting targets systematically and comprehensively in accordance with the reality of Vietnam when determining feasible technologies and technical solutions for the project at Bien Hoa airport. They should quickly overcome issues emerging during the joint management and implementation of the Project, and reported them to competent agencies of Vietnam and the US so that the project can be implemented more efficiently.

Reporter: Thank you very much!

Translated by Mai Huong