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US Starts Scrubbing Agent Orange From Vietnam

First direct contribution 'a little late': activist
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2012 7:45 AM CDT
US Starts Scrubbing Agent Orange From Vietnam
On Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012, a child watches other children dance at a rehabilitation center in Danang. The children have disabilities reportedly caused by their parents' exposure Agent Orange.   (AP Photo/Maika Elan)

(Newser) – For the first time since the Vietnam War ended, the US is getting its hands dirty in the effort to clear Agent Orange out of Vietnam. Washington is forking over $41 million to support the removal of the herbicide that caused, by Vietnam's count, 150,000 kids to be born with serious birth defects. A pair of US companies are working with Vietnam's defense ministry to detoxify the soil around the airport in the city of Danang, one of dozens of contaminated areas where Agent Orange was stored, the BBC reports.

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The process involves removing the contaminated soil and heating it to temps high enough to kill the dioxins. The US contribution comes "a little late," but it's "greatly appreciated," says a rep for the Agent Orange Victims Association. But it won't stop victims' lawsuits, he adds, as anger over the toxic defoliant lingers. The cleanup effort will continue until 2016, says a rep for USAID. As it stands, the US offers compensation to US vets who suffered ill effects from Agent Orange, but not to Vietnamese victims. (Read more Vietnam stories.)

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