file under: Asia/Pacific, Environment, Federal Government

USAID and CDM Smith Share AAEES Honor Award in Environmental Communication

Communication key to implementing Danang dioxin remediation strategy

May 08, 2014

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and CDM Smith received an Honor Award in Environmental Communication from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. The award recognized the public information and stakeholder involvement program associated with remediation of dioxin contamination at the Danang Airport in Vietnam.

Large volumes of Agent Orange, a defoliant containing toxic dioxin, were used during the U.S.-Vietnam War. The former U.S. military base at Danang, now a Vietnamese military airbase and the primary civil airport in Central Vietnam, is one of the most contaminated sites in the country and is a Government of Vietnam (GVN) priority for remediation to eliminate the risk of human exposure to dioxin. At the GVN’s request, the United States, led by USAID and through a contract with CDM Smith, is remediating areas of the Danang Airport, isolated to the military airbase areas, where dioxin concentrations in soil and lake sediments substantially exceed international and Vietnamese standards.

Communication has been a critical success factor in moving remediation forward. Efforts have included:

  • Stakeholder involvement—More than 60 workshops combining slide presentations and facilitated discussions to develop project goals, communicate progress, address technical and other concerns, and achieve consensus. Technology tours of remediation sites in the U.S. and Denmark, as well as progress tours at the Danang remediation site also supported ongoing transparent communication.
  • Public, media and scientific community—Public and media ceremonies, site tours, monthly project newsletters, and a website support ongoing communication with these key constituencies. A 3D visualization video was created to explain the treatment process (see accompanying video).
  • Local Danang community—Community workshops, project information brochures and a public service announcement were prepared and distributed in English and Vietnamese.

All of these communication efforts have been instrumental in building trust and understanding with the Government of Vietnam, key stakeholders and the public, and in achieving consensus for the innovative in-pile thermal desorption remediation strategy that is currently being implemented.

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