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Notice on Media Access to Bien Hoa Airbase Area Dioxin Remediation Site

Speeches Shim

USAID/Vietnam is committed to informing the public, through the media and other relevant means, on the Dioxin Remediation at Bien Hoa Airbase Area Project. This includes a commitment to support media access to the project site. However, access is subject to inherent constraints of the project and its location, which make arranging for individual access difficult. As the area belongs to the Government of Vietnam (GVN), the GVN must approve all requests for site access. To obtain proper GVN approvals, at least 30 days are required to process site access requests for media representatives under the following protocol:

  • Interested journalists (foreign and local) should first contact USAID with proposed dates for a site visit. USAID may not be able to accommodate certain dates based on project activities and contractor staff availability. In such cases, USAID will propose alternative dates. As USAID does not have staff in Bien Hoa, most interviews with USAID, if any, should be scheduled to take place in Hanoi.

  • Once a site visit date has been agreed upon by USAID and the media representative, foreign journalists must obtain a journalist visa to Vietnam by applying through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Foreign Press Center. MOFA will then send the site access request to the Ministry of National Defense (MND) for approval in consultation with USAID. Local journalists should send the site access request directly to the MND for approval after consultation with USAID.

Important Notes:

  • This is a complex process that can takes several weeks to complete. Members of the media are requested to provide adequate lead time (i.e., at least 30 days).

  • The project involves major excavation and construction activities in a dioxin-contaminated site. Current activities include operation of heavy machinery and equipment for hauling soils and sediments, as well as operations related to the thermal treatment technology. The site is also part of an active airport and military airbase.  The safety of onsite workers and visitors is critical. Therefore, it is required that all visitors receive health and safety training and must be escorted while onsite.

  • Visits by those not involved in the remediation work cause varying degrees of disruption to the project. Not only must health and safety training be provided, but the work must be slowed, altered or even stopped, depending on the circumstances, to accommodate the presence of visitors. This can result in increased costs, lost productivity and schedule delays, so visits must be planned to minimize disruption and keep the project on track for on-time completion.

Given these constraints, USAID emphasizes proper planning for access to the site by journalists under the following conditions:

  • In general, USAID will seek to minimize disruption to the remediation work by limiting the frequency of visits to one approximately every two to four weeks. Visits by groups may be arranged based on language availability (English or Vietnamese) and media needs (print or audiovisual).

  • For the purpose of ensuring safety and minimizing project disruption, media access will typically occur during 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. on weekdays only. Specifically, these hours are based on the availability of the key personnel needed to provide the required health and safety training to all visitors and to escort the media on the site.

  • The onsite contractor will provide an escorted tour of the site only in areas determined to be consistent with safety standards. Visitors are required to sign the site visitor log. Visitors must adhere to the guidelines and safety rules prescribed to them.

  • Visitors CAN take still photographs at the site. Visitors CANNOT record site briefings given by project contractors via any audio or video device, including phones.

  • USAID's team of contractors can only provide technical project information and explain what is happening at the site. Other questions will be deferred to Vietnam's Ministry of National Defense, USAID, or the U.S. Embassy. Project contractors are not USAID employees and therefore CANNOT speak on behalf of USAID. Their statements should not be recorded or considered on-the-record.

  • If onsite access cannot be arranged within a mutually agreeable time, USAID and its GVN partners will try to suggest alternative dates. USAID can also provide recent site photos and/or video b-roll for media that can use these resources.

  • Interviews in Bien Hoa with U.S. Government officials will be considered on a case-by-case basis given that they require travel to Bien Hoa at U.S. taxpayer expense.