HA GIANG (VNS) — The People's Committee of the northern province of Ha Giang has ordered the Ha Giang water supply company to repair all chlorine leaks before September 30.
Officials said the repairs are meant to prevent further damage to the environment and protect the health of local residents.
Leaking chlorine gas from the company's water treatment plant has harmed the living conditions of local residents in Ha Giang City's Tran Phu Ward over the past three years. Crops have withered and some residents reportedly had difficulties in breathing, according to officials.
After three chlorine gas containers used to treat water leaked three years ago, the company built a large limewater tank to hold the containers. Any gas leaking from the containers would then dissolve and not affect the environment.
However, people living in the area continued to complain that chlorine gas was sometimes released into the air, affecting their health and crops.
Meanwhile, the water company's director, Nguyen Vinh Phu, has admitted that chlorine gas sometimes leaks into the surrounding environment.
The committee also asked the company to regularly check the water treatment plant's operation to ensure the safe use of chemicals and promptly deal with any leakage of chemicals, particularly hazardous chemicals, to prevent their affecting local people's health and the environment.
The committee required the company to quickly develop an environmental protection plan as a basis to implement environmental protection measures. The plan must be completed before October 31 this year to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment for assessment.
When added to water, chlorine acts as a disinfectant, killing bacteria and other microbes that can spread diseases to humans. However, breathing chlorine can adversely affect the human respiratory system, causing symptoms such as coughing, chest pains and water retention in the lungs. Chlorine also irritates the skin and eyes. The effects of chlorine on human health depends on the amount of chlorine, and length and frequency of exposure. — VNS