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Lao Cai flood victims seek compensation

Update: December, 29/2014 - 09:49
The reservoir is owned by the Cam Duong Ore-Sifting Plant, which is part of the Viet Nam Apatite Co Ltd, and is located in Ta Phoi Commune. — Photo VNA

LAO CAI (VNS) — A waste water reservoir in the northern province of Lao Cai burst at the beginning of last month, flooding local residents' fields, ponds and wells, but they are yet to receive compensation.

The reservoir is owned by the Cam Duong Ore-Sifting Plant, which is part of the Viet Nam Apatite Co Ltd, and is located in Ta Phoi Commune.

In a meeting with local authorities a day after the incident, a representative from the Viet Nam Apatite Co Ltd said the reservoir's dam had cracked, causing the water to leak following heavy rains.

The breach was 6m in length and 3m in height.

Nearly 10,000cu.m of waste water and a large volume of mud swept into nearly 1ha of fields, filling two fish ponds and three clean water wells.

However, local authorities did not agree with the explanation.

An inspection showed that the company increased the dam's height by six metres without telling competence agencies.

Nong Van Leng, chairman of the Ta Phoi Commune People's Committee, said it had not rained on that day.

The new part of the dam was unsafe and was the cause of the incident, he said.

Worried residents

Luong Van Doan, head of Trang Village in the commune, said that they had not been compensated for the damage caused by the breach, and the commune had only 5ha of fields remaining.

The compensation offered by the company was also too low, at VND90,000 (US$4.2) per square metre, whereas each square metre can bring in VND1.6 million ($76) per year.

"Compensation is only a small thing. We're more worried that in the long term, the waste water contaminate the wells and cause diseases," said Doan.

The village has 19 households located about 50m from the plant.

The plant has a pumping station to take water from a nearby stream for sifting ore.

Doan said water from the wells used to be pure, but since 2006 when the plant opened, it had become contaminated. Farm productivity had decreased and livestock were prone to sickness.

The village reported the problem to city authorities and asked the plant to build a clean water supply system for residents.

"The plant took water samples for testing and said it was safe to use, but we did not agree. We are sure the work they do involves chemicals substances, and the plant keeps releasing waste water. This affects our water resources," said Doan.

Chairman Leng said the company should compensate residents quickly otherwise the situation could become more serious. — VNS

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