Nearly four decades after the United States lost its war against Vietnam, the toxic legacy of that war – Agent Orange contamination – has finally begun. The former US airbase in Danang was the storage and preparation depot for 21 million gallons of toxic defoliant, produced by the chemical giants Dow Chemicals and Monsanto and sprayed on Vietnam’s forests to deprive North Vietnamese guerrillas of forest cover.
In the decades since the war, local residents have suffered elevated rates of birth defects and cancers which they attribute to exposure to dioxin, one of the most deadly chemicals in the world. The chemical has also polluted local lakes and the fish and lotus plants the residents harvest. They US government has never admitted liability but it has donated $54 million to disabled victims. US veterans who served in the war and suffered exposure to the chemicals have been compensated.
AFP reports that the Vietnamese government estimates that up to three million people were exposed to Agent Orange, and 150,000 children have been born with birth defects.