HÀ NỘI — Chemical troops on Thursday completed detoxification work at the light-bulb factory where a blaze occurred back in late August.
The fire caused extensive damage to the warehouses of the Rạng Đông light bulb manufacturer, and the public is most concerned with the mercury that was released into the atmosphere, soil and water in the surrounding areas.
Senior Lieutenant Colonel Đậu Xuân Hoài, vice chairman of the Military Institute of Environmental Chemistry under the Ministry of National Defence, told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) that one third of the total area, about 2,000 sq m needed to be detoxified.
Flames destroyed the warehouses of the Rạng Đông Light Sources and Vacuum Flask JSC in Thanh Xuân District, Hà Nội, last month, destroying more than four million light bulbs. Panic over a health crisis for residents in the capital city immediately flared due to a potential exposure to the fatal substance mercury – a metal used in making fluorescent lights.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources later confirmed that up to 27kg of mercury could have been leaked into the surrounding residential areas after the fire.
However, air and water tests carried out by the Government days after the blaze indicated the mercury levels were still within safety standards.
The chemical corps was deployed to the burnt out site to clean up all toxic residue in the area.
Hoài said the clean-up work was changed from the initial plan.
The force at first planned to remove all the debris on the 6,000 sq m before starting the detoxification, he said. But that idea was dropped and instead the total area was divided into three smaller zones.
“We were first handed one third of the area, and it was the most polluted one. We carried out detoxification steps and all work was done for now,” Hoài said.
The rest of the polluted area – around 4,000 sq m – was still loaded with debris from the fire and thus it was unable to do the chemical clean-up.
The State-owned Hà Nội Urban Environment Company No 10 – the UNRENCO 10 – was tasked with removing the debris.
URENCO 10 chairman of the board Lê Hồng Phong said the company planned to finish collecting all the debris in the second zone of 2,000 sq m on September 28-29 before handing the land to the military for the detoxification.
The last 2,000sq m was expected to be cleared on October 2, he added. — VNS