HA NOI (VNS)— Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has ordered provincial and municipal People's Committees to re-examine the granting of permits for groundwater use.
He also asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to work with the committees to inspect the quality of groundwater for safety in response to press reports of possible contamination of water supplies in major cities.
In September, about 150 households in an apartment block in Ha Noi's My Dinh Commune were shocked to learn that the water they had been using for the past several years had tested to contain extremely high levels of arsenic.
The results showed that the samples were contaminated with arsenic at 37 times higher than the acceptable level. The water, provided from a well, had been reportedly been of a reddish colour, prompting the tests.
An estimated 73 per cent of capital city residents use well water for daily use.
Arsenic, a colorless and tasteless chemical, is a harmful substance that can cause various diseases, including cancer.
Dr Le Ke Son, deputy director of the ministry's Administration of Environment said that groundwater nationwide was contaminated with saltwater and heavy chemicals.
In the Red River and Mekong Delta regions, saltwater intrusion was widespread due to industrial pollution, he said.
In Ha Noi, a number of drilled wells contain phosphate of 0.4mg per litre over than allowed levels. In the northern mountainous provinces of Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang, the amount of iron was up to 20mg per litre, 20 times higher than allowed.
Groundwater in the Red River and Mekong Delta regions also had high amounts of arsenic of about 10mg per litre, far above the allowed level of 0.01mg per litre, he said. — VNS