Viet Nam News
LÀO CAI — A waste pond connected to a DAP fertiliser factory in the northern province was compromised late last week and over 45,000cu.m of mud and untreated chemical-filled wastewater spilled over into nearby neighbourhoods following torrential rain.
Authorities in the northern province are still working to address the environmental fallout of the serious incident.
Lê Ngọc Hưng, vice chairman of Lào Cai Province People’s Committee, said on Sunday that at the moment, the province had successfully contained the incident and stopped the spill spreading, during his working session with representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the State-run Việt Nam National Chemical Group (Vinachem), investor of the fertiliser factory in question, located at Tằng Loỏng Industrial Park in Bảo Thắng District.
By Sunday noon, emergency forces had remedied the contamination, neutralising the acidity in the spilled wastewater (pH returned back to the normal level of 7).
Lào Cai has also asked the fertiliser factory to suspend operations until the consequences are cleared up.
Lào Cai authorities have also quickly evacuated the 33 affected households at the foothill of the waste pond to safer grounds.
Vice Chairman Hưng said in the long term, the province would need to relocate households living in the vicinity of the waste pond far from the site.
Locals were told not to use water fetched from the rivers in the affected area (Phú Nhuận, Suối Trát, Mã Ngan and Hoai).
Yên Bái Province, lying to the south of Lào Cai and downstream of the Hồng (Red) River, was also notified of the incident and asked for their co-operation in monitoring the quality of the river water, in order to provide a timely response in case of emergencies.
Nguyễn Phú Cường, Vinachem chairman, said the group would ask the fertiliser company to pay compensation to the 33 affected households as well as cover the expenses to relocate 10 households alongside nearby rivers.
Cường said the group is also looking at ways to reinforce the embankments of the waste pond.
“Only when the safety standards are ensured, will we resume our operations,” Cường said.
Right after the incident, the fertiliser factory immediately dumped several tonnes of lime into the rivers and onto the river banks to neutralise the acidity, and put up warning signs in high-risk areas.
Lào Cai Military Command then mobilised soldiers and militiamen to the scene to help people with clean-up operations.
Police of Bảo Thắng District mobilised about 50 officers, soldiers, fire trucks and water sprayers to the incident site to maintain traffic, security and order. — VNS