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Cablegate: Czech Republic Details Dioxin Cleanup Efforts at Former

VZCZCXRO4500
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #1350/01 3470814
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120814Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8844
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 5373
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 6559
RUEHPG/AMEMBASSY PRAGUE 0103
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP/ISA/AP/ES//
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J00/J005/J006/J01LA/J06/J5//
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001350

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/EP, EAP/RSP, EAP/PD, OES/PCI, OES/STC (EILEEN
KANE)
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR ANE, G/ENV
STATE PASS TO EPA/OIA (DENNIS CUNNINGHAM AND MARK KASMAN)
STATE PASS TO EPA/ORD (KEVIN TEICHMAN)
HHS/OSSI/DSI PASS TO OGHA/HHS (STEIGER/VALDEZ/ABDOO)
CDC FOR OGHA (BLOUT), NCEH (SINKS), NIOSH (SWEENEY), AND NCBDDD
(BOYLE)
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (SHUBERT AND VAN HOUTEN)
HHS/OSSI/DSI PASS TO FIC/NIH (GLASS) AND NIEHS/NIH
BANGKOK PASS TO RDMA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SENV TBIO KPAO VM
SUBJECT: CZECH REPUBLIC DETAILS DIOXIN CLEANUP EFFORTS AT FORMER
U.S. AIR BASE

REF: HANOI 1332

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR DISSEMENATION OUTSIDE THE USG
OR INTERNET POSTING.

1. (SBU) Summary: In a December 11 meeting with Emboffs, David
Jarkulisch, Commercial and Development officer at the Embassy of the
Czech Republic, detailed November meetings between Czech technical
and development experts and their Government of Vietnam (GVN)
counterparts to negotiate dioxin remediation and health projects at
or near the former U.S. airbase at Phu Cat. Jarkulisch noted
progress, but also discussed some bumps in the road. End Summary.

Czech-Vietnamese Phu Cat Remediation Plan
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In November, the Czech Republic sent a mission to Vietnam
to agree with the GVN on a scope of activities under the August 2008
agreement with Office 33 (the entity that coordinates GVN Agent
Orange/dioxin policy) to remediate Phu Cat airport. Jarkulisch
lamented that due to the decline of the Czech koruna against the
dollar, the Czech government could only fund USD 2.3 million as
opposed to the USD 3 million originally planned - though that number
could move back up depending on exchange rate fluctuations. The
Czech Republic plans to spend USD 1.5 million from 2009 through 2011
on airport remediation activities and, starting in 2010, provide USD
800,000 for health and social projects for persons affected by
dioxin surrounding the airport and in broader areas of Binh Dinh
province.

Vietnam Focuses on Containment, Not Remediation
--------------------------------------------- --

3. (SBU) Though the Czech Republic and Vietnam agreed upon a scope
of work for surveying and initial remediation at Phu Cat, Jarkulisch
noted that the scope of work did not follow the priorities preferred
by the Czechs. As in our discussions at the Joint Action Committee
(JAC) Technical Group (Reftel), the GVN demanded the project
initially focus solely on excavation and passive land filling. Only
following completion of this phase would the GVN agree to allow the
Czechs to pilot remediation methods - whether biological or
chemical. Additionally, as we had heard from the UNDP, the new
Office 33 leadership pressed the Czechs to fund travel and office
equipment beyond that needed for actual remediation. According to
Jarkulisch, the Czechs refused and also pushed back on seemingly
high initial GVN estimates for landfill construction on site.
Making work more difficult, the GVN could not produce a detailed
surface map or geologic map of the site, instead relying on a
satellite image provided by the U.S. Department of Defense. Finally,
Jarkulisch lamented the recent departure of long-time interlocutor
Dr. Le Ke Son from Office 33. Unlike discussions with the United
States, Son no longer plays any role in Czech-Vietnamese
cooperation. The Czechs have found it more difficult to work with
his replacements.

Remediation Costs Seem Reasonable,
Actions will Follow EU Standards
----------------------------------

4. (SBU) At the same time, Jarkulisch noted several positive steps.
The GVN agreed that USD 1.5 million would cover the costs of
landfill construction, soil excavation, additional sampling of lake
sediment surrounding the airport, a workshop for local authorities
detailing contamination issues, and the eventual piloting of
remediation technologies. About half of the total would go towards
constructing and moving soil to the landfill. This number is much
lower than initial GVN estimates and seems consistent with the scope
of our initial calculations for costs at Danang (Danang costs will
be higher due to higher volumes of soil and higher dioxin
concentrations). Further, the GVN agreed to allow a Czech company
to be present on site throughout the remediation process for quality

HANOI 00001350 002 OF 002


assurance/quality control. All efforts would meet European Union
standards. At this point, Jarkulisch was unsure whether the GVN
would require the Czechs to use a Ministry of Defense company to
excavate the soil and construct the landfill or would allow the
Czech government to bid out the project.

U.S. Engagement Leveraged Czech Efforts
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Jarkulisch highlighted the importance of continued U.S.
involvement in Agent Orange/dioxin and stated that this engagement
facilitated approval within the Czech government for this project.
We agreed to share information on remediation technologies and
strategies. We urged the Czechs to join us to advocate for
remediation beyond passive land filling, which likely will not
reduce dioxin contamination to acceptable levels. Depending on
internal budgetary discussions and Czech perception of continued
U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation on this issue, Czech involvement in
dioxin remediation may end following completion of the project at
Phu Cat in 2011. Should issues arise after that, we know the GVN
will again point to the United States for resolution.

MICHALAK

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