Vinh Linh, Quang Tri (18 June 2020) — Battle Area Clearance (BAC) teams managed by Project RENEW and Norwegian People’s Aid (RENEW/NPA) today found and unearthed a cache of unexploded ordnance while clearing a contaminated area in Thái Lai Village of Vinh Thai Commune.
The cache was found just beneath the surface of a dirt road that runs through the clearance site where the BAC teams have been working since Monday. Hundreds of local people and vehicles travel back and forth on the road every day. Fortunately, bad things haven’t happened.
15 June 2020 marked an important milestone when RENEW/NPA conducted BAC operations for the first time on the northern side of the former Demilitarized Zone in Quang Tri Province. Following the team’s restructuring and clearance training in May, six newly established BAC teams were deployed to clear a large Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA) near the coastline in Thai Lai Village.
Located only 30 km from the Con Co Island, Thai Lai Village was subject to heavy aerial bombings, especially cluster munitions, and naval attacks from the U.S. military from 1967-1972 because of its role as a logistical hub for the provision of supplies to the northern Vietnamese forces on the Con Co Island. Since the war ended in 1975, the village has sustained 15 new accidents related to explosive ordnance, resulting in 6 people being killed and 11 injured.
The CHA in Thái Lai Village was defined as a result of the RENEW/NPA’s Cluster Munition Remnant Survey, with a total area of nearly 1.5 million sqm contaminated. Once the clearance has been completed, this task will benefit 634 families with a total of 878 inhabitants of Thái Lai Village. Local residents will then finally have safe land to resettle and develop acacia planting which is a major source of income for the families.
During the past four working days, the BAC teams have found and safely destroyed 23 cluster munitions and 33 other items of explosive ordnance.
The Survey & Clearance Program of Project RENEW – Norwegian People’s Aid is funded by the U.S. Department of State and the UK Department for International Development.
Project RENEW was established in 2001 as a joint effort between the government of Quang Tri Province and interested INGOs to “restore the environment and neutralize the effects of the war”.
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) has worked in Vietnam since 2007 and collaborated with national and provincial authorities to implement capacity development, survey and clearance projects in Hanoi, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue and Quang Binh provinces.