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Viet industrial zone spews poison fumes, waste

LAO CAI, Vietnam, July 23 — Serious chemical and sewage pollution has been reported at the Tang Loong Industrial Zone in the northern province of Lao Cai.

This is because the zone authorities did not set up waste treatment systems, said Nguyen Thanh Sinh, deputy director of the Lao Cai Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment.

The Tang Loong Industrial Zone, covering an area of 1,100 ha, includes 11 metallurgy and chemical manufacturers. It was founded in March last year and is about 800m far from the residential quarter.

A journalist from the Vietnam News Agency observed chimneys at metallurgy factories discharging thick, smelly smoke and dust that was seriously affecting local residents' lives.

He said that roads around the zone were also covered in foul mud because the industrial zone's enterprises had poorly functioning sewers.

Sinh said smoke and dust being discharged from the enterprises was poisonous chemical waste.

If local residents breathe with the waste for a long time, it can cause anaemia, childless and cancer, he said.

So far this year the department has fined four enterprises in the zone a total of VND800 million (US$ 38,100), the highest administrative fine in the province to date, Sinh said. The Duc Giang Chemical Corporation was fined for not classifying harmful waste and keeping it in safe storage.

Vu Ngoc Hoa, director of the Lao Cai Copper Smelting Company, said that every month the company discharged about 16 tonnes of copper cinders which was stored on the company's premises.

"We know that it is harmful waste, but the industrial zone has not arranged any proper storage for solid waste," said Hoa.

He said the company planned to find a waste-treatment company, or ask the provincial people's committee for a piece of land to store it.

"Maybe scientists can help us find a good way to process the cinders," he said.

Meanwhile, Pham Toan Thang, deputy chief of the provincial People's Committee Secretariat, has asked the industrial zone's management board to set up an area for containing solid waste together with a collective waste treatment system.

A plan for the system must be handed to the committee by the end of this month.

The People's Committee will also join the management committee in setting up an automatic air monitoring system to detect which enterprises discharge waste illegally, said Thang. (PNA/VNS)

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