Lam Dong residents concerned after water pipeline ruptures

Update: February, 19/2016 - 09:02
Reservoir of Tan Rai Aluminium Plant in Central Highlands Lam Dong Province. The environment was not affected after a water pipeline of the plant broke, the local government said. — VNA/VNS Photo

LAM DONG (VNS) — The authorities of Lam Dong Central Highlands Province have confirmed that the environment was not affected after a water pipeline ruptured, though local residents remain concerned about long term consequences.

The pipeline that broke on Saturday is part of the Tan Rai Aluminium Plant, in Loc Thang Town, Bao Lam District.

The pipeline carries water from a red mud reservoir to the plant for sifting, and contains a corrosive alkaline chemical.

Once the breakdown was discovered, Lam Dong Aluminium Co Ltd, which manages the plant, sent water containers to dilute the alkaline spill, however, local residents are still worried.

Dong Van Hoai, who witnessed the rupture, said that water from the broken pipeline looked like soap bubbles and had an unpleasant smell.

Hoai added that 20 households that live about 500m from the plant have not used their well water for the past two years as they fear the water has been polluted by work at the plant.

After the latest incident, they had become even more anxious, he said.

Vu Minh Thanh, general director of the Lam Dong Aluminium Co Ltd, told the Lao dong (Labour) newspaper that the pipeline was built after the Tan Rai Plant was already opened to transport the red mud for sifting.

No households had asked for compensation, but they wanted the company to support them by setting up a clean water system, or relocating them to a safer location, said Thanh.

The company will set up a delegation to inspect the pipeline's quality and then act upon the results found.

A report released by the company on Sunday stated that about 14cu.m of water had spilled from the pipeline onto surrounding land.

After the company diluted the spill with extra water, the remaining liquid's alkalinity was measured as less than 9, which is within regulated safety levels, the report said.

No people were injured or property damaged or affected, according to the report.

Nguyen Trung Kien, chairman of the Bao Lam District People's Committee, said that the committee was considering a suitable punishment for the company based on current laws.

The district authorities would join with concerned organisations to find a resolution to the accident and provide safety information to local residents.

Deputy director of the Lam Dong Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Luong Van Ngu said soil samples'test results are expected in 10 days.

As the incident occurred in daytime and was quickly treated it did not affect the environment, he said.

He also confirmed that after the leak, plants in the affected area had withered.

Associate professor, Ho Uy Liem, former standing chairman of the Viet Nam Union of Science and Technology Associations, said that water containing strong alkaline chemicals would cause pollution if it was absorbed into the land. Such pollution could affect plants, animals in canals and people, he said. — VNS