|Since 2008, villagers of Phuong Linh, Dong Loc Commune, Hau Loc District, claim to be suffering from a home-run business that recycles used oils to make kerosene and causes pollution. — Photo baodongnai
THANH HOA (VNS) — Since 2008, villagers of Phuong Linh, Dong Loc Commune, Hau Loc District, claim to be suffering from a home-run business that recycles used oils to make kerosene and causes pollution.
After several failed efforts, the villagers of Thanh Hoa Province are turning to the media for help.
Dan Tri online newspaper interviewed villagers, who said that this business, owned by Nguyen Van Tung, allegedly collected used motor oils from various places, mixed them with chemicals and boiled the fluid to produce kerosene, without utilising methods to protect the environment.
Columns of black smoke are spewed from the boiling of waste oils, which pollute the air and water of the local community, villagers explained, on the condition of anonymity.
Neighbours told the newspaper that they had to keep their doors and windows closed and wore face masks when sleeping.
Even residents who live one kilometre from the business can smell the foul odour when it operates.
Moreover, local residents claim that since the beginning of 2015, six villagers had died of cancer suspected to have been caused by the running of this kerosene business.
Some said they feel dizzy and nauseous, and even develop headaches due to the smell of the fumes.
In addition, some families reportedly relocated because of the conditions.
According to villagers, when the business began operating, some residents forwarded complaints about the pollution it caused to authorities, and consequently they were threatened and even chased by the owner wielding a knife.
In late 2013, the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment inspected the business and concluded that it caused extensive pollution.
"After the inspection was carried out, everything returned to normal," a villager pointed out. "Before the inspection, they would work only at night, but now they work at any time."
The newspaper interviewed Nguyen Van Thai, vice chairman of the Dong Loc Commune People's Committee (CPC), which governs the village where the business operates.
Thai noted that the owner of the business, Tung, had been summoned to the CPC office on several occasions and ordered to shut down.
In 2013, the district and communal police raided his business and confiscated all equipment. Tung and his wife Tranh fought back. Tranh also attacked the police with a broken bottle and injured a policeman, for which she was prosecuted and jailed for two years. There, she was found to be infected with HIV and released early.
Thai added that since the incident, he had not heard any complaints from the villagers regarding this business, and that despite revisiting the place every year, the police could not find anything.
He also rebutted claims there had been cancer-related deaths caused by this business.
The local government was puzzled when they dealt with this family business because the HIV-infected couple was unemployed, he said, adding that if they shut down their business, they would have no way to feed themselves.
Furthermore, the newspaper talked to Nguyen Van Ap, the party chief of Hau Loc District.
Reiterating that the Dong Loc authorities had been harsh with this family, Ap added, "While banning them from running the business and confiscating their equipment, the local government should have created an alternative means of livelihood for them."
"However, this was not done by (the authorities of) Dong Loc Commune," he added.
"If people continue to complain about it, we will have competent agencies visit the place and check it," the district party chief promised. — VNS