Sunday, June 20, 2010

This letter from Len Aldis looks at some of the
flowing with the oil spill in the Gulf!

Why only BP, Mr. President?

In each of your statements relating to the BP damaging oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, you have lost no opportunity to attack BP as the cause and have demanded in no uncertain term that that must pay compensation to all who have, and will be affected, and to clean up the areas affected.

Any reasonable person would agree with you, no matter who causes damage to people or the environment and they should also clean up the areas. However Mr President, I find your arguments a bit one-sided.

The oil-rig ship “Discoverer Enterprise” hired by BP to drill for oil is owned by the American company Transocean.

It is, as it states on their website
“the first ultra-deepwater drillship with dual activity drilling technology, which aims to reduce the cost of an ultra deepwater development project by up to 40 percent.”

“This massive, multi-purpose vessel can work in the deepest waters being explored in the world today.” “Transocean holds 19 of the past 23 world records for drilling in the deepest waters.”

Why Mr President have you not demanded of Transocean that they too must pay compensation and clean up the damage caused?

Let me mention another American company that you will know: Halliburton, one of whose bosses was Dick Cheney, the former U.S. Vice-President.

Information has come from some congressional hearings on problems with the casings that were put around the bore hole in the sea bed and the cementing that is critical to sealing it up.

Halliburton did the cementing at the well, under contract to BP. It was given the task to inject cement to seal the casing in the bore hole so making it impossible for any seepage of gas and, further it was Halliburton that made the cement plug that would have allowed BP to return at a later date to begin production.

Last August, Halliburton was involved in the cementing of a well in Timor Sea off the coast of Australia that similarly blew out, sending thousands of gallons into the ocean.

Why, Mr President have you not demanded of Halliburton, that they also must pay compensation and help with the clean up?

Mr President, a little bit of history, you were just six-day old when U.S. Forces began spraying Agent Orange, amongst other chemicals, on the people and land of Vietnam. And the spraying continued until you reached the age of ten-years.

During that time 80,000,000 litres were used, destroying the forests and crops, and also killing thousands of Vietnamese. The number of abnormal births runs into the thousands, the number of Vietnamese seriously ill and suffering from deformities today runs into the millions.

Now I cannot blame you, as you were a child who grew to be a healthy young man, married and have two lovely children, quite a contrast to the many
Vietnamese affected by Agent Orange.

But, I do and will blame you for refusing to accept the responsibility as President for the damage done to the people and environment of Vietnam.

I also blame you for not forcing the chemical companies such as: Monsanto, Dow etc, who manufactured Agent Orange, to pay compensation to the Vietnamese victims and their families for the damage that they were and remain responsible for.

Let me also remind you that BP has already begun paying compensation and has agreed to clean up the areas they have soiled with the oil, something that the U.S. Governments since 1973 and the U.S. companies refuse to do for the damage they did to the people and land of Vietnam.

It is time Mr President for you and Monsanto etc to paraphrase the words you said of BP “to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the victims who have been harmed as a result of the U.S. action in using Agent Orange.”

Accept responsibility and pay compensation to the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

Over to you Mr President.

Len Aldis June 16th 2010

Also published in the Baltimore Post.

Len Aldis. Secretary
Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society

Flat 2, 26 Tomlins Grove
London E3 4NX
Tel & Fax: 0208 980 7146
Mobile: 0779 657 1017
Skype: Len.Aldis


Introduction: A Legacy Revisited
Agent Orange is still damaging lives in Vietnam. The time has come for America to act.
by Walter Isaacson

Agent of Influence
The realpolitik case for compensating Vietnam.
by Geoffrey Cain and Joshua Kurlantzick

The Environmental Consequences of War
Why militaries almost never clean up the messes they leave behind.
by Clay Risen

A Hard Way to Die
Why hundreds of thousands of Vietnam vets with Agent Orange–related diseases have been made to suffer without VA health care.
by Phillip Longman





Hanoi, June 17, 2010

On June 16, 2010 in Hanoi , members of the US–Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange announced their “Action Plan” to resolve the Agent Orange problem in Vietnam . On this meaningful occasion for the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam , the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) formally states the following.

On behalf of all victims of Agent Orange, VAVA sincerely thanks all the people who, with strong dedication and great effort, developed this “Action Plan” with goals and programs to be funded in the amount of $300 million US dollars over a period of 10 years.

As an organization representing all the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam , VAVA has been concerned for many years with mobilizing and coordinating support for the victims in whatever ways possible. We believe that:

1/ This is an action plan of individuals -- citizens of Vietnam and the U.S. They may perceive reality from different angles, arising from their particular areas of expertise and professional fields, but they share the aspiration to completely resolve the Agent Orange issue, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also in the hope of creating conditions for our two peoples to advance relations on a higher level. Coming together, they called themselves the US–Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange. After spending time to study the situation and discuss the issues, they felt a need for an action plan to build the foundations and goals for the next efforts.

2/ It is clear that, in the next 10 years, Vietnam will spend billions of dollars addressing the Agent Orange problem. Much of this amount will be spent on monthly assistance payments to those most seriously affected and for meeting urgent needs of victims. While the action plan and proposed budget of $300 million US dollars is absolutely modest compared to the actual scope of what is needed to address the suffering of the people and the damage to the environment caused by Agent Orange, the effort is well appreciated and highly valued in this time when Vietnam is still poor and the needs of victims are immense.

3/ Looking back at the challenging years of the past, in perception as well as regarding real solutions to alleviate the Agent Orange tragedy, a 10-year action plan with a price tag of $300 million US dollars represents the efforts of individuals in the Dialogue Group but also the tireless efforts of individuals and organizations in Vietnam, the U.S., and in many countries, and many international forums, especially those of the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, contributing to the building of the foundation and conditions for this type of plan to come into being, including the building and developing of friendly relations between the US and Vietnam.

4/ The cooperation in completing this plan of action demonstrates that the government and people of the two countries can cooperate and together resolve the remaining post-war problems. We hope that this plan, together with action plans of other individuals and people’s organizations, will lay a firm and positive foundation for the two governments to initiate stronger cooperation to resolve the Agent Orange and other remaining post-war issues.

5/ The “Action Plan” is a program of ideas and goals. It does not detail the specific action and implementation methods. It is important that when and if the “Action Plan” is implemented, the Vietnamese government, social organizations and individuals in Vietnam and abroad will also have their own programs. In order to avoid duplication and stepping on each others toes, we hope that this “Action Plan” will be promptly followed by a detailed plan for implementation for each of its projects, to help create common understanding for coordination of efforts. The close coordination between mass organizations and between the two governments not only will improve the effectiveness of each of the projects, but also contribute greatly to a closer, more cooperative, and greater understanding between our two peoples. As an organization working closely day by day, minute by minute with victims of Agent Orange, with a deep understanding of their physical and mental needs, we are ready to coordinate or to participate in this project or any other project.

6/ We hope that all projects and their implementation will be faithful to the title of this Announcement “ADDRESSING THE LEGACY OF AGENT ORANGE IN VIETNAM.” However, we would like to note that after years of bearing the pain of diseases on their bodies, many victims of Agent Orange, especially those who have aged and those suffering severe conditions, are now living in much more extreme poverty due to their inability to work and the need for expensive daily medical treatment. For them, 10 years or even 5 years is an eternity-- too long to sustain. Thus, while implementation of the “Action Plan” is being discussed, studied and planned, we hope that these victims’ needs for immediate relief and will be given the highest priority because they absolutely and urgently need care now.

7/ Finally, we hope that this “Action Plan” will be implemented not only by those who are best qualified, but also by those who are most dedicated and humanitarian and who possess the highest cooperative spirit.

On behalf of 3 million victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam , we hope that this “Action Plan” becomes a reality, and we thank the individuals and organizations who contributed to this “Plan”.

National Office of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin


Nguyen Van Rinh



This response to the Action Plan from Len Aldis:

The attachment has my thoughts/views on the plan by the Dialogue Group that was published this week. It has received wide publicity due to the figure of $300 million. Which, in my view is peanuts knowing the number of victims in Vietnam and the size of the problem for the clean up of the sites, let alone recovering the land, forests etc etc.
However, enjoy the reading.

Addressing the legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam

The Declaration and Plan of Action report published by the Aspen Institute June 2010, is to be welcomed in so far as the publicity it has received in the media of many countries. Welcomed as it has brought the issue of Agent Orange to many thousands of people who were perhaps not aware of the horrific legacy its use left to the people and land of Vietnam. The media appear to be attracted more to the total figure of $300 million given as the amount needed to cope with AO in the country, than to the proposed plan that is to be spread over ten-years as is the $300 million.

There are on reading through the document, a number of questions I have and would like to raise them here in the hope that it will lead to a discussion on the document and its proposals.

Let me deal with the “Declaration”. It states, “In the 35 years since the end of the war, the United States and Vietnam have made great progress towards friendly relations.” Sorry not correct, the figure should 16 years. The authors have forgotten the international embargo imposed on Vietnam in 1973 by the US, sadly fully supported, and was only lifted in 1994, 16 years ago. This may be a small point to some when dealing with the essence of the plan, but having carried out an horrendous war on Vietnam, then to impose an international embargo that set the country back from recovering many years, points to me a sad lack of historic fact by the authors.

No wonder, as is stated later “A majority of Americans who have been polled to date agree that it is time to lay those issues aside.” How many years will elapse before the American will lay aside 9/11? That tragic incident has led to an illegal war on Iraq, the deaths of over a million innocent Iraqi’s and the land poisoned by the use of such weapons as Depleted Uranium (DU), the effects of which are being felt by the people of Iraq and those who served in that war.

The two goals on Page 2

  • Clean dioxin-contaminated soil and restore ecosystems; and
  • Expand services to people with disabilities linked to dioxin, and to push people with other forms of disability (hereafter referred to as people with disabilities), and to their families.

Are welcome but I question when it is stated, “Achieving these goals will require the combined efforts of governments, businesses and NGO’s.” Am I correct in assuming that “governments” mean the U.S. and Vietnam? And “businesses” will mean Monsanto, Dow Chemicals and the other 34 American companies that manufactured Agent Orange etc? It would be useful to know. As I find it surprising that the companies are not even mentioned throughout the whole document. Are they not to be involved in cleaning up the mess they made?

The NGO’s involvement is understood, but would expect that they be chosen very carefully for the work they will need to carry out.

Under the section “The Context”, the document states that since 1987, the US Govt has provided £47 million for various programmes supporting the Vietnamese with disabilities. This relates in part to injuries caused by explosives left over from wartime. Although such aid was and is welcome, the authors have missed an opportunity in not stating that the US government should pay the $3-5 billion promised by President Nixon under article 21 of the Paris Agreement. To date not one cent has been paid. And when the figure proposed by the document is $300 million, the omission of $3-5 billion speaks volumes.

There is a very worrying piece later on the documents states; “Unused stocks of herbicides were collected at Da Nang, Bien Hoa and Tuy Hoa after 1971. Damaged barrels were disposed of in local landfills, while the remaining herbicide was rebarreled for shipping to the South Pacific. It was destroyed there by incineration in 1977.”

Question. Where are those landfills where the damaged barrels were dumped? Are the sites known? Are they leaking? How many barrels were dumped?

The Vietnamese people are entitled to know, and know NOW. Will they be dug up and removed? Or contained on site?

Phase one of the programmes 2010-2012 at a cost of $29.7 million looks to me to be a low figure. As do the costing of the other phases. Can these figures be reviewed?

The containment of contaminated soil at Da Nang airport has still to be explained. I have raised this question in previous emails. Perhaps we can be answered now. How it is to be contained? For how long? How secure? And who will carry out the maintenance of the site of containment? These questions apply to the other Hot Spots.

Len Aldis

June 2010

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