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美国迈出清理越战遗留化学毒剂第一步

After 40 Years, U.S. to Clean Up Agent Orange in Vietnam
美国迈出清理越战遗留化学毒剂第一步

DA NANG, Vietnam — In the tropical climate of central Vietnam, weeds and shrubs seem to grow everywhere — except here.

越南岘港——越南中部的热带气候下,杂草和灌木似乎到处蔓延,除了这里。

Forty years after the United States stopped spraying herbicides in the jungles of Southeast Asia in the hopes of denying cover to Vietcong fighters and North Vietnamese troops, an air base here is one of about two dozen former American sites that remain polluted with an especially toxic strain of dioxin, the chemical contaminant in Agent Orange that has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other diseases.

当年,美国为了让越共(指越南南方民族解放阵线——译注)作战人员和北越军队无处藏身,在东南亚的丛林中喷洒除草剂。终止这种做法40年后,仍有24处美军原址被毒性极强的二恶英污染,其中包括这里的一座空军基地。作为橙剂(Agent Orange)的主要成分,这种化学污染物被认为和癌症、婴儿先天畸形及其他疾病有关。

On Thursday, after years of rebuffing Vietnamese requests for assistance in a cleanup, the United States inaugurated its first major effort to address the environmental effects of the long war.

美国多年来一直拒绝越南方面协助清理的请求,但在周四启动了第一项重大努力,应对那场漫长的战争对环境的影响。
 

刘诗书丈夫所在的美军基地曾受污染,造成她儿子先天畸形。

“This morning we celebrate a milestone in our bilateral relationship,” David B. Shear, the American ambassador to Vietnam, said at a ceremony attended by senior officers of the Vietnamese military. “We’re cleaning up this mess.”

“今晨,我们庆祝双边关系中的一个里程碑事件,”美国驻越南大使戴维·B·希尔(David B. Shear)在有越南军方高级官员出席的仪式上表示,“我们将清理这些糟糕的残留污染。”

The program, which is expected to cost $43 million and take four years, was officially welcomed with smiles and handshakes at the ceremony. But bitterness remains here. Agent Orange is mentioned often in the news media, and victims are commemorated annually on Aug. 10, the day in 1961 when American forces first tested spraying it in Vietnam. The government objected to Olympics sponsorship this year by Dow Chemical, a leading producer of Agent Orange during the war. Many here have not hesitated to call the American program too little — it addresses only the one site — and very late.

预计该计划将耗资4300万美元,持续四年,在场人士用微笑和掌声对计划表示正式欢迎。然而,越南人并未释怀。这里的新闻媒体经常提及橙剂。每年8月10日,人们都会纪念受害者。在1961年的这一天,美军第一次在越南试验喷洒橙剂。越南政府曾反对战时橙剂的主要生产商——美国陶氏化学公司(Dow Chemical)成为今年奥运会的赞助商。很多越南人都毫不犹豫地称,美国的清理计划太微不足道了,它只针对一个地点,而且拖了这么多年才拿出行动。

“It’s a big step,” said Ngo Quang Xuan, a former Vietnamese ambassador to the United Nations. “But in the eyes of those who suffered the consequences, it’s not enough.”

“这是一大步,”越南前驻联合国(UN)大使吴光春(Ngo Quang Xuan)说道,“但在承受着后果的人眼里,这还不够。”

Over a decade of war, the United States sprayed about 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, halting only after scientists commissioned by the Agriculture Department issued a report expressing concerns that dioxin showed “a significant potential to increase birth defects.” By the time the spraying stopped, Agent Orange and other herbicides had destroyed 2 million hectares, or 5.5 million acres, of forest and cropland, an area roughly the size of New Jersey.

在10多年的战争期间,美国在越南、柬埔寨和老挝喷洒了大约2000万加仑橙剂和其他除草剂,直到美国农业部委托的科学家公布了一份报告才终止。这份报告对二恶英“极可能增加婴儿先天畸形”表示担忧。到喷洒停止时,橙剂和其他除草剂已经破坏了200万公顷(合550万英亩)的森林和农田,总面积几乎和新泽西州一样大。

Nguyen Van Rinh, a retired lieutenant general who is now the chairman of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, has vivid memories of hearing American aircraft above the jungles of southern Vietnam and seeing Agent Orange raining down in sheets on him and his troops. Plants and animals exposed to the defoliant were dead within days. Many of his troops later suffered illnesses that he suspects were linked to the repeated exposure to Agent Orange, used in concentrations 20 to 55 times that of normal agricultural use.

退役中将阮万林(Nguyen Van Rinh)现在是越南橙剂/二恶英受害者协会(Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin)主席。他对战时的经历记忆犹新:他在越南南部的丛林听到美国飞机在上空飞行,然后看到橙剂如倾盆大雨般落到他和部下身上。受到落叶剂污染的植物和动物在几天之内就死了。他手下的很多官兵后来受到病痛折磨,他怀疑这些和他们多次接触橙剂有关。当时,美军使用的橙剂浓度是正常农用剂量的20倍至55倍。

“I would like to have one message sent to the American people,” Mr. Rinh said in his office, where a large bust of Ho Chi Minh, the wartime leader and icon, stared down from a shelf behind his desk. “The plight of Agent Orange victims continues. I think the relationship would rise up to new heights if the American government took responsibility and helped their victims and address the consequences.”

“我想给美国人民捎一句话,”阮万林在办公室里说。他的桌子背后是一个书架,书架上一尊巨大的胡志明(战时领导人、偶像级人物)半身雕像居高临下地凝视着他。“橙剂受害者的苦难还在继续。我想,如果美国政府负起责任,帮助受害者并且应对后果的话,两国关系会上升到新的高度。”

Those who have worked on the issue say the American government has been slow to address the issue in part because of concerns about liability. It took years for American soldiers who sprayed the chemicals to secure settlements from the chemical companies that produced them. The United States government, which also lagged in acknowledging the problem, has spent billions of dollars on disability payments and health care for American soldiers who came into contact with Agent Orange.

研究了这件事的一些人士表示,美国政府在应对这个问题上动作迟缓,部分是由于担忧赔偿责任。喷洒这些化学品的美国军人花了数年时间,才从生产商争取到和解协议。同样拖了很久才承认这个问题的美国政府,已花费数十亿美元向接触过橙剂的美国军人支付残疾补偿和医疗费用。

Mr. Shear, the American ambassador, sidestepped a reporter’s question after the ceremony about whether the United States would take responsibility for the environmental and health effects of Agent Orange.

仪式过后,当一名记者询问美国会否为橙剂造成的环境和健康影响承担责任时,美国大使希尔回避了这个问题。

A class-action case against chemical companies filed in the United States on behalf of millions of Vietnamese was dismissed in 2005 on the grounds that supplying the defoliant did not amount to a war crime and that the Vietnamese plaintiffs had not established a clear causal effect between exposure to Agent Orange and their health problems.

有人曾代表数百万越南人,在美国对化工企业提起集体诉讼,但美国法院在2005年驳回原告的诉讼请求,理由是供应落叶剂并不构成战争罪,而且越南原告未能证明在接触橙剂与他们的健康问题之间存在清楚的因果关系。

When environmental factors are linked to disease, proof positive is sometimes hard to determine. American military studies have outlined connections between Agent Orange and myriad ailments, while Dow Chemical maintains that the “very substantial body of human evidence on Agent Orange establishes that veterans’ illnesses are not caused by Agent Orange.”

在主张环境因素和疾病有关联时,有时很难找到确凿的证据。美国军方的研究概述了橙剂和多种疾病之间的联系,但陶氏化学坚称,“有关橙剂的大量人体证据表明,退伍兵的疾病不是由橙剂引起的”。

In Vietnam, there are many cases in which links to Agent Orange appear striking.

在越南,很多病例与橙剂有关,令人震惊。

Nguyen Van Dung, 42, moved to Da Nang in 1996 with his wife and newborn daughter and worked at the former American base, wading through the knee-deep mud of drainage ditches and dredging them with a shovel. During the first 10 years, he, like other employees, harvested fish and eels from the large ponds and canals on the air base grounds, taking them home almost daily. Studies later showed high concentrations of dioxin in the fat tissue and organs of the fish.

42岁的阮文勇(Nguyen Van Dung)1996年和妻子以及刚出生的女儿搬到岘港,之后他在那里的前美军基地工作,艰难地在污泥齐膝深的排污渠里挪动,用一把铲子挖出污泥。头十年里,他和其他员工一样在基地的大池塘和水渠里捕捞鱼类和黄鳝,几乎每天都把它们带回家。后来的研究显示,这些鱼的脂肪组织和器官积聚了高浓度的二恶英。

The couple’s second daughter was born in 2000 with a rare blood disease. She died at 7.

这对夫妇的第二个女儿在2000年出生,患有一种罕见的血液病。她在7岁时去世。

Their son Tu was born in 2008, and he was quickly found to have the same blood condition. With regular transfusions, he has defied his doctor’s prediction that he would not live past 3, but he is nearly blind, with bulging eyes that roll wildly, and he speaks in high-pitched tones that only his parents can understand. His chest cavity is so weak that he cannot breathe if he lies on his stomach.

他们的儿子修(Tu)在2008年出生。很快,他也被查出患有类似的血液病。医生预计他活不过3岁,但定期的输血维持了他的生命。然而,他几乎是个盲人,鼓胀的眼球大幅度转着。他说话的声音很尖利,只有父母能听懂他在说什么。他的胸腔如此虚弱,以至于如果他俯卧下来就无法呼吸。

What caused the birth defects, and who is to blame? Detailed medical tests are out of the question for Tu’s parents, whose combined monthly income is the equivalent of $350, much of which goes to medical care.

是什么原因导致先天畸形?谁又该承担责任?对于月收入只相当于350美元的这对夫妻来说,彻底的医学测试根本不可能。他们的大部分钱都用在对修的治疗上了。

But Luu Thi Thu, the boy’s mother, does not hesitate to assign blame.

不过,孩子的母亲刘诗书(Luu Thi Thu)毫不犹豫地指出了她认定的罪魁祸首。

“If there hadn’t been a war and Americans hadn’t sprayed dioxin and chemicals into this area, we wouldn’t be suffering these consequences,” she said.

“如果没有这场战争,如果美国人没有在这个地区喷洒二恶英和化学品,我们不会遭受这些后果,”她说。

Le Ke Son, a doctor and the most senior Vietnamese official responsible for the government’s programs related to Agent Orange, said the debates should take a back seat to aid. “We spend a lot of time arguing about the reason why people are disabled,” he said. “One way or another they are victims and suffered from the legacy of the war. We should do something for them.”

黎继山(Le Ke Son)是一名医生,也是越南负责涉及橙剂的政府计划的最高级别官员。他认为辩论应该退居其次,援助才是最首要的。“我们花了很多时间争辩人们残疾的原因。”他说,“无论如何,他们总是受害者,承受着战争后果的折磨。我们应该为他们做点什么。
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