HA NOI (VNS)— Residents in five tenement blocks in Phu My, My Dinh Commune, Tu Liem District are in shock after finding that the running water they have used for several years contains high levels of arsenic.
Tests they had made at the Institute of Chemistry on August 21 revealed that the content of arsenic was 37-42 times higher than that allowed.
Five years ago, the tenements, built by Ha Noi Real Estate Investment Joint Stock Company (C'Land), were sold to about 150 families.
The water to the apartment block is provided by the company, which sources the water from a subterranean well.
Residents complain that the water is dirty, muddy and sometimes has a black colour like sewage.
"Although we reported the situation many times, the problem continues," resident Ngo Thu Thuy told Viet Nam News at her apartment on Tuesday.
She also said since living in the tenements, many people, including youngsters, had developed stomach and skin problems. Most families were now equipped with filters to clean out pollution.
Arsenic poisoning can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, blood filled diarrhoea. It is also linked with cancer of the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney.
Now, nearly three weeks after the test results were announced, Mai Hoang Anh, deputy general director of C'Land, told residents the company would send water samples for rechecking. However, two days later, residents caught two workers for Hoang Hai Anh Services and Trading Company Ltd employed by the developers, pouring chemicals, mainly permanganate, into the water treatment system at the drill site.
Do Tien Truong, a resident, said: "They did so to minimise the content of arsenic before taking samples for testing. The action is immoral and disregards people's lives," he said.
According to the residents, C'Land has now asked residents to pay 70 per cent of the cost of building a pipeline connected to the city's running water supply.
The company later halted the supply of well water. Residents have been using clean water the company bought from other localities until an agreement is reached.
However, according to the latest notice from the company on the notice board, water supplies meet standards. If residents want to use running water from the Da River, each household will have to pay VND3 million (US$143).
But the residents said it's the responsibility of the developers to supply power and clean water, as written in the purchase contracts.
Some residents plan to now sue the company. Viet Nam News tried unsuccessfully to reach the company's representative for further comment. — VNS