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Contaminated groundwater blamed for commune cancer deaths

Update: December, 25/2012 - 12:47


A resident of Hoa Hoi commune, Nguyen Van Be (right), suffers from cancer.— Phu Yen online

PHU YEN (VNS)- The high number of deaths from cancer in a commune in Phu Yen Province has raised serious questions about the safety of the groundwater used by local residents in their daily lives.

Le Xuan Bang, chief of Song Cau Town's Hoa Hoi commune in coastal Phu Yen province, said that a total of 19 people have died from cancer in recent years. In 2012 alone, nine residents have died, with seven of them being diagnosed with cancer. The youngest was just 20 years old, while the oldest was 66.

Le Huynh, who lives in the commune, lost his three sons to lung cancer. In 2001 Le Van Kieu died when he was 45, his brother Le Thanh Long died in 2004 when he was 37 years old and recently Le Van Nong also passed away at the age of 48.

"If life was to be safe and sound, there would be nowhere I would rather live than here. However, we now fear for our lives as cancer has killed many people," said Huynh.

Nguyen Van Chinh, deputy chairman of Xuan Canh People's Committee, stated that the number of cancer cases increased suddenly for the first time in 2008.

The quality of groundwater is suspected as the primary cause of the deaths. Bang said that most of the commune's residents use water from the wells near the cemetery every day.

"The cemetery has more than 1000 tombs in a high position, while the wells are lower down, so we think there is high possibility that the water in the wells has been contaminated from the tombs," Bang said .

He added that he and local residents have called for the construction of a running water source and asked both the provincial and municipal People's Committee to inspect the quality of groundwater being used.

"We have had no response from them so far", he said.

Meanwhile, Chinh said that the municipal People's Committee had proposed to close the cemetery and relocate it, but this had failed to happen.

"The Phu Yen People Committee needs to be more involved with inspections in order to ensure that the nearly 670 people of the commune can live a safe life," said Chinh. VNS

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