Last week, several of us who were on the Interfaith Delegation to Vietnam in May gathered at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC to release of a Plan of Action to begin to deal with the toxic legacy of Agent Orange/dioxin in that country.
That plan calls for a three-phase program to clean up toxic “hot spots” where Agent Orange and dioxin were stored and spilled – and where the smell of these chemicals still lingers 35 years later. It also calls for expanding the work with people with disabilities, especially children with birth defects, some of whom we saw on our journey.
The price tag is $300 million over ten years. The joint US/Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin recommends that some of that money come from the U.S. government, and some from private philanthropists.
This is a moral “no-brainer.” Of course, we should do this… and more.
But this has implications beyond Vietnam. What have we left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan? What about the poisons we use in the environment generally, like the “dispersants” being used in the Gulf of Mexico now? This plan of action calls us to look at a larger picture… the preservation of a non-toxic Planet Earth.