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Reuters/Department of Defense
An American helicopter sprays Agent Orange, a chemical that still lingers in Vietnam’s soil
A CLEAN DIPLOMACY

After decontamination trials in Fukushima, Japan will try to scrub Agent Orange from Vietnam

By Aliza Goldberg

Japan could help Vietnam finally get rid of traces of chemical warfare left in the soil since the Vietnam War.

After Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant ruptured in March 2011, Japanese civil engineering company Shimizu trialed its water pressure technologies to purify some of the soil in the area. Now, Shimizu seems to think similar purifying technology can work for other contaminants, including the carcinogenic herbicide Agent Orange. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Shimizu began shipping Agent Orange-contaminated soil from Vietnam to Japan for testing in October.

During the Vietnam War, American forces sprayed Agent Orange across swathes of Vietnamese forest in order to defoliate trees, allowing bomber jets a better bird’s eye view of guerrilla fighters. Agent Orange contains dioxin, a chemical compound linked to physical deformities, mental problems, blindness, blood diseases, and lung cancers.

According to Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien, the city of Bien Hoa in the Mekong Delta still has a high concentration of dioxin. Forty years after the war’s end, residents of Bien Hoa continue to avoid the contaminated lake in their district.