Head of Hanoi-based Rang Dong Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC has admitted that 480,000 fluorescent light bulbs that were burnt in the fire on August 28 contained liquid mercury.
|The factory after the fire.|
It is estimated that between 15.2 and 27.2 kilograms of mercury have been released into the environment when the warehouse of Rang Dong light bulb factory was ablaze, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE).
The information was confirmed by Hoang Van Thuc, Deputy Director General of MONRE's Vietnam Environment Administration, local media reported.
Rang Dong had previously reported to the authorities that it had been using Amalgram (an alloy of mercury with other metallic elements) in lieu of liquid mercury for its light bulb production since 2016.
|Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan at the press conference on September 4.|
But the company’s head has recently admitted that all 480,000 fluorescent light bulbs that were burnt in the fire contained liquid mercury. The information was revealed after field examination conducted by Vietnam Environment Administration.
The Vietnam Environment Administration said in a report released on September 8 that within a 1,000-meter radius of the fire, the amount of mercury in the air was at a level acceptable under Vietnam’s national environmental standards as well as that of the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, inside the warehouse area, the mercury level had exceeded WHO warning levels by 1.532 times, as opposed to the 10-30 times announced at a press conference September 4 by the MONRE's Deputy Minister Vo Tuan Nhan.
|Staff of the Institute of Military Environmental Chemistry collect samples at the scene.|
Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said that Rang Dong JSC will be responsible for dealing with pollution in the area of the fire, and would have to provide authorities with information on the origins of mercury stored in its warehouse, as well as other documents relevant to its storage.
He told VnExpress on September 9 that the city’s authority had sent a written request on September 5 to the Ministry of Defense for support in handling environmental pollution after the warehouse fire.
Residents near Rang Dong JSC had started moving out of their homes the following days due to health concerns. Several people reported unusual fatigue and stinging eyes.
Hoang Van Thuc said last week that the evacuation of residents within a 500-meter radius of the fire site should wear masks and long-sleeved clothes whenever they get near the scene of the fire.
People within the 500-meter radius can get free health checkups from the Hanoi Department of Health, Hanoi Chairman Chung said last week.
|The warehouse after the fire.|
The Hanoi Department of Health is providing free checkup for people living around Rang Dong JSC from September 6 to September 12.
As many as 927 people in Ha Dinh and Thanh Xuan Trung wards got health check in the past three days, of them 320 people had to go to the hospital for mercury test samples.
Most of the people coming for medical examination are aged between 41 and 60. They all live or work within an area of 500-meter from Rang Dong JSC.
|The warehouse is covered by canvas after the fire.|
A five-hour blaze that started at 6:00 pm on August 28 destroyed a third of the inventory at the 6,000-square-meter warehouse belonging to the Rang Dong JSC, a leading manufacturer of lighting products and equipment.
Initial investigations show that the cause of the fire stemmed from storage procedures and there was no sign of sabotage.
Police are still investigating the fire and have not yet ascertained its cause.
PM request thorough solutions for mercury-released blaze in Hanoi
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on September 9 asked Hanoi People’s Committee and competent agencies to thoroughly solve environmental consequences of the fire at Rang Dong ligh bulb factory.
The PM's order sent in a document to press agencies yesterday requesting Hanoi People’s Committee, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and relevant agencies to take immediate measures to minimize the consequences of the fire.
Accordingly, the top priority is set to residents’ safety during the remediation of the environmental hazard.
Secondly, PM Phuc requested Hanoi’s authorities to move polluting factories out of urban and residential areas.
Regarding the remedies for the fire consequences, Hanoi People’s Committee has requested the Ministry of Defense to help treat environmental pollution and determine the pollution level.
Until now, Institute of Military Environmental Chemistry under Vietnam’s Chemical Army has already taken samples for testing and it is working on the solutions.
The Division of Criminal Police and the local police garrison in Thanh Xuan district are assigned to investigate the causes of this fire.
Meanwhile, the people are warned against consuming vegetables, fruits, poultry, fish, or meat originated 1km from this area in the next 21 days. Water stored in open reservoirs located in an area of about 1km from the fire site is also said to be not drinkable.
All workers and residents living within a radius of 500 meters from the company’s fence are subject to free checkup lasting until September 12.
Preliminary statistics from Rang Dong JSC showed a property damage worth around VND150 billion (US$6.45 million), equal to nearly 5% of the total asset of this company. Hanoitimes/VietNamNet
People living around Rang Dong Light Source &Vacuum Flask JSC in Hanoi will get free medical examinations following the recent fire at the firm.
The level of mercury found in various samples collected in the vicinity of a destroyed light bulb factory in a densely-populated area of Hanoi has been deemed safe to human health, VN Environment Administration said yesterday.
Fire ravaged Hanoi-based Rang Dong Light Source & Vacuum Flask Jsc for hours on Wednesday evening, which is forecasted to bring about huge losses.