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July 14, 2020, 9:55 am

HCMC: officials busy attending meetings, chemicals flowing to canal

(10:59:16 AM 14/05/2014)
( - A heavy rain is all it would take to spread 500 tons of chemicals throughout the Hoc Mon-Bac Binh Chanh Irrigation System, affecting 2,000 hectares of rice land.


The intended topic for discussion at the meeting held by the HCM City People’s Council on May 8 concerned solutions to environmental pollution in the Le Minh Xuan Industrial Zone in Binh Chanh District.


However, the attendants found it necessary to spend the time discussing how to deal with the 500 tons of chemicals and fire extinguishing powder which flowed to Canal 6 from Tan Hung Thai Company’s storehouse during a recent accident.


According to Doan Nhut, Deputy Chair of Binh Chanh District People’s Committee, a massive explosion took place in late April at Tan Hung Thai’s chemical storehouse in Le Minh Xuan Industrial Zone,upon which the storehouse burst into flames.


As the relevant agencies did not have experience in dealing with such incidents, they focused on extinguishing the fire. Only after discovering that a large volume of chemicals was flowing into the canal, did the district’s authorities order the installation of embankments on both ends of the canal to “lock in” the chemicals.


All the water hyacinth, fishes and snails living within a 600 meter section of the canal died from the chemical exposure. An official of the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and the Environment said one company has offered a service package priced at VND2-3 billion to repair the damages caused by the accident.


Nguyen Thi Minh Hanh, Deputy Head of the HCM City Board of Management of Industrial Zones and Export Processing Zone (EPZ), said Tan Hung Thai specializes in making chemicals used for preserving food. The chemicals are mostly acidic substances, therefore, they are toxic to living creatures.


She said it is foreseeable that the accident will have terrible consequences. In a similar accident in the past, the chemicals drifted downstream to Le Minh Xuan Industrial Zone, changing the color of the grass and plants there.


Also according to Hanh, damming up to prevent chemicals from spreading is just a temporary solution which does not help much. Just a heavy rain would be enough to damage the embankment and release the chemicals.


However, despite anticipating the danger, no perfect solution has been found so far. Meanwhile, the water of the Canal 6 still bears the brown-red color of its chemical soup.


According to Pham Van Dong, Head of the HCM City People’s Council’s Economics and Budget, the city’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment has been too late in settling the problem.


Explaining the tardiness, Cao Tung Son, Deputy Head of the Environment Protection Sub-department, said that under current law, the company that caused the chemical accident (Tan Hung Thai Company in this case) must take the responsibility of repairing the damages and rendering compensation.


However, Tan Hung Thai has reported that it is facing too many difficulties, thus making it impossible to settle the problems right away. Therefore, the environment department has requested Le Minh Xuan Industrial Zone to advance money to pay for the settlement. However, the zone’s board of management has refused.


“Only when involved parties affirm they are not capable enough to settle problems, will competent agencies need to intervene,” he said.

Source: VNN

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