Rạng Đông factory and warehouse after the fire. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — The Rạng Đông Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC has agreed to pay more than VNĐ2.4 billion (US$102,100) in compensation to nine families whose homes were damaged during a fire at the company’s warehouse last August, an official said on Monday.
Nguyễn Xuân Lưu, People’s Committee chairman of Thanh Xuân District where the factory was located, told reporters at a regular district briefing that the blaze at the factory seriously destroyed parts of nine adjacent houses. The homes had to be rebuilt.
“The company has agreed to give more than VNĐ2.4 billion to those nine families to rebuild their houses. Meanwhile, Thanh Xuân District People’s Committee has asked the Urban Management Division to grant a (construction) permit as soon as possible so that the houses can be rebuilt,” Lưu said.
The district chairman reported that residents in the neighbourhood demanded Rạng Đông halt production and quickly move out of the area following the fire.
“Hà Nội and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment have taken steps regarding the Rạng Đông issue. Rạng Đông Company also reported recently that it had stopped manufacturing products containing mercury in the factory located in the district,” Lưu said.
The Rạng Đông factory and warehouse facility in Thanh Xuân District was engulfed in flames last August which led to between 15.1 and 27.2 kgs of mercury leaking into the surrounding residential neighbourhood, according to the Việt Nam Environment Administration.
‘Fear and insecurity’
The incident served as a brutal wake-up call to Hanoians about the risks of living among big factories.
“After that terrible incident took place, most of us were very scared and particularly concerned about children’s health,” Trần Giang who lives adjacent to the Rạng Đông warehouse told VOV.
“My family had to leave the house and rent another place for two months before we returned to our old home. Things have started to calm down now, but many have already sold their houses and moved away.”
Four months have passed since the blaze, but the thoughts that a similar catastrophe might strike again in the future haunted the local man.
“Life is hard, and we have no choice but to come back here to live in fear and insecurity all the time,” Giang said.
Another local Nguyễn Tú Minh was irritated that many factories, including Rạng Đông, remained in the neighbourhood despite the Prime Minister’s decision in 2015 to relocate industrial manufacturers out of densely populated urban areas.
“We have been on edge since the fire happened, as there is not only Rạng Đông but many other factories in the area. A disaster can strike at any time.
“Now we only wish that all operating factories here can quickly move to another place so that residents can rest assured,” she said. — VNS