Soldiers from The High Command of Chemicals under the Ministry of National Defence enter the burnt warehouse of Rạng Đông Light Sources and Vacuum Flask JSC to remove toxic substances on Thursday morning. —VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang
HÀ NỘI — The High Command of Chemicals under the Ministry of National Defence has started to remove toxic substances at the burnt-out warehouse of Rạng Đông Light Sources and Vacuum Flask JSC in Thanh Xuân District’s Hạ Đình Ward.
On Thursday, soldiers, staff from the Hà Nội’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the Military Institute of Environmental Chemistry and the Urban Environment and Industrial JSC 10 (URENCO 10) began the clean-up.
Six military vehicles and army personal moved inside the warehouse, which was destroyed by a blaze on August 28. At about 9am, staff of the high command operated equipment to handle mercury vapours inside.
Soldiers of The High Command of Chemicals clean up at the burnt warehouse of Rạng Đông Light Sources and Vacuum Flask JSC on Thursday morning. —VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang
Meanwhile staff from the military institute took samples of dust at the scene.
A member of staff from the military institute takes samples of dust at the scene.—VNA/VNS Photo Sơn Bách.
Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyễn Văn Bổng said the collection and treatment of toxic substances would be carried out quickly but carefully to ensure absolute safety. During the collection process, monitoring equipment would be used to supervise the spread of toxic chemicals.
Trần Trung Trưởng, deputy director of the company said relevant units worked out a detailed plan to remove the toxic substances.
The process would be strictly supervised by the High Command of Chemicals to guarantee a safe environment for local residents near warehouse, he said.
In a related movement, it is estimated that 1,776 people living in areas close by have been examined and received free heath advice. Of which, 843 people have been told to conduct intensive tests on mercury.
By Wednesday afternoon, the test results, conducted by the Institute of Occupational Health and Environment under the Ministry of Health, showed that there have been no cases of blood tests containing higher level of mercury than normal.
Trần Nhị Hà, deputy head of the city’s Department of Health said the department scheduled to provide free health check for the locals between September 6-12, but the timeframe would be extended if demand remained.
In another development, Hạ Đình Primary School, about 500m far from the burnt warehouse, has been operating as usual after test results showed the mercury level measured at the school was lower than the permitted level.
The fire at the light bulb warehouse owned by the company in Thanh Xuân District’s Hạ Đình Ward happened on August 28th.
Although firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish the blaze, a third of the 6,000sq.m warehouse, with more than four million light bulbs, was destroyed. Losses were estimated at about VNĐ150 billion (US$6.4 million).
The fire has raised public concern over exposure to mercury, a toxic metal that is used in fluorescent lights, triggered by the fire.
On September 4, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Võ Tuấn Nhân told local media that 15.1-27.2kg of mercury has been leaked into the surrounding areas after the fire.
At a press conference on the same day, the Việt Nam Environment Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said that the level of mercury found in the vicinity of the destroyed light bulb factory has been deemed safe to human health.
The administration still urged caution over possible adverse effects on the health of people living within a radius of 500m from the fences of the burnt warehouse. — VNS