Hatfield’s work on the Danang Airport Remediation Project featured in the Journal of Environmental Management
Oct 06, 2021
Hatfield’s work on the Danang Airport Remediation Project in central Vietnam was recently featured in the Journal of Environmental Management. The manuscript — titled Incremental Sampling Methodology (ISM) for improved characterization of Agent Orange dioxin in Vietnam soil and sediment — compares ISM with more traditional sampling techniques to determine the most reliable approach for quantifying the magnitude and extent of contamination in large and complex study areas. To this day, the remediation of the Danang Airport represents one of the largest treatment projects in the world, whether measured by volume, area, or cost.
Danang is a city in central Vietnam that experienced significant military activity during the Vietnam War. Between the years of 1962 to 1971, the US Military and Republic of Vietnam sprayed over 80 million litres of herbicides, including Agent Orange, on the forests and crops of southern Vietnam. Hatfield’s ground-breaking studies confirmed the large volumes of Agent Orange that were handled at the Danang Airport in support of these Operation Ranch Hand spraying missions had caused significantly elevated concentrations of dioxin and other contaminants in the vicinity of the airport. In response, the Government of Vietnam selected the Danang airport as a priority remediation area to reduce exposure to humans and limit impacts on the surrounding environment.
While Hatfield’s previous studies concluded there was significant dioxin contamination well above international and Vietnam standards and that remediation of the Danang Airport was required, the uncertainty associated with these traditional sampling methods was too high to inform the design of a detailed clean-up strategy. This challenge was addressed with the ISM method, which provided more accurate estimates of dioxin levels, a more representative measurement of mean contaminant concentration, and better-defined confidence limits.
The results of this study highlighted the often-unseen error associated with a reliance on traditional, discrete, or composite sample data to measure contaminant loadings in the environment. The more robust ISM method ensured mean concentrations and the spatial extent of contamination were defensively established, allowing the remediation strategy to include accurately forecasted volumes of contaminated soil and sediment. Costing over $100M USD, this remediation project is one of the most significant dioxin treatment projects in the world, and one that Hatfield is proud to have played an integral role in.
To read the full manuscript in the Journal of Environmental Management click here.