Vinaconex Water Supply Joint Stock Company (Viwasupco), which purifies water to supply for a large part of Hanoi, did not clean the contaminated water but isolated it.
Viwasupco General Director Nguyen Van Ton said that this is the first time his company’s tap water has been contaminated and there is no technology available to separate oil from water.
The general director said that his company did not clean the contaminated water but isolated it.
Nguyen Van Ton, general director of Vinaconex Water Supply Joint Stock Company. Photo: TTT
"We would not purify the water if any abnormality is found in it. Our prime goal is not profit but the people’s health and water quality," Ton said.
He admitted the company did not timely make public and explain to the people about the incident.
Since last Thursday, residents in some districts of Hanoi found their tap water polluted. Many reported the water had a smell similar to burning plastic, and have thus turned to bottled water in frustration.
The smell appeared after an unidentified 2.5-tonne truck discharged oil into Tram spring near the premises of Viwasupco waterworks on October 8.
Viwasupco was reportedly aware of the incident but did not alert the authorities and kept supplying the contaminated water to Hanoi.
On Tuesday, Hanoi mayor Nguyen Duc Chung confirmed in a meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong that the company's water is contaminated, with tests showing styrene levels in the water nearly four times higher than normal.
On October 15 night, following the instruction of Chairman of the Hanoi People's Committee Nguyen Duc Chung, Hanoi Clean Water Company issued an emergency notice and started supplying safe water to residential areas under Viwasupco’s service 24/7 and completely free.
The stream near Viwasupco’s plant remained polluted
After a week after the incident was detected, the area around Tram spring still smells unpleasant and the spring water remains black.
According to a Viwasupco’s official at the scene, the location of the discharged oil is a water collector. "This proves that the oil discharge was deliberate," the official said.
Da River Water Plant resumes water supply to Hanoi
Hanoians waiting for clean water on October 15
In latest news, Da River Water Plant resumed tap water supply to Hanoi from 9 pm on October 16 after dealing with oil contamination.
Nguyen Van Toi, Director of Fresh Water Business and Construction Investment JSC, confirmed the news.
"After the operation is resumed, the water pressure will increase gradually. All customers will have water again in today," he said.
Fresh Water Business and Construction Investment JSC are providing water to over 150,000 customers in Thanh Xuan, Nam Tu Liem and a part of Hoang Mai, Cau Giay and Thanh Tri districts. Each day, about 100,000 cubic metres of water from the Da River Water Company is consumed.
Lai Van Thinh, Director of Ha Dong Water Company said Da River Water Company started providing water again. Thinh said each day, they received 40,000 to 45,000 cubic meters of water from Da River Water Company.
In the early morning of October 16, Da River Water Plant announced that it would temporarily stop providing water to the western districts in Hanoi in order to clean up the water tanks and pipes after the oil contamination.
Authorities in Hanoi had warned local people that tap water in some districts including Ha Dong, Thanh Xuan, and Hoang Mai is contaminated with styrene, a carcinogenic substance, caused by oil discharged at a stream near the reservoir of the Da River Water Plant.
It was not until residents in some districts in Hanoi reported a smell similar to burning plastic coming from their tap water supplied by the plant that local authorities started an investigation. Police in Hoa Binh Province are seeking an unidentified 2.5-tonne truck that dumped oil into the stream near a reservoir.
Who is to blame for Hanoi's contaminated tap water?
Vietnam`s authorities need to check the water quality as a basis for considering and determining responsibilities of related people.
Lawyers said that both the truck driver who discharged used oil near a spring that feeds the water purifying plant of Vinaconex Water Supply Joint Stock Company (Viwasupco) and this business should be held accountable for Hanoi's contaminated tap water, Zing News reported.
Since last Thursday, residents in some district of Hanoi detected foul smell similar to burning plastic from their tap water, and have thus turned to bottled water in frustration.
A 2.5-ton truck pouring used oil into Tram spring, which is a water intake for the water plant operated by Viwasupco, is said to be the culprit for the situation.
The tests on the tap water supplied by Viwasupco showed the styrene level in the water is nearly four times higher than normal, Lawyer Dang Van Cuong, head of the Chinh Phap Law Office, said the firm or individuals involved in polluting the spring had committed a serious and irresponsible act of vandalism, as Viwasupco supplies tap water to thousands of households in Hanoi with full knowledge that the water is contaminated with oil.
Those who dumped used oil into the Da river watershed, negatively affecting lives of thousands of people, could be fined up to VND1 billion (US$ 43,000), Cuong added.
He noted that if found to be a serious and irresponsible act of vandalism, the offenders may face penal consequences for causing environmental pollution, prescribed in Article 235 of the Penal Code and could be sentenced up to seven years in prison.
According to the lawyer, Viwasupco was reportedly aware of the problem but failed to report to the authority and continued to supply water for users in Hanoi. It is also an irresponsible and mindless act as it negatively affects thousands of people in Hanoi.
Cuong said the authorities need to check the water quality as a basis for considering and determining responsibilities of related people, and Viwasupco must compensate for all the damages that may result from the use of polluted water.
The followings are Tram spring images after being contaminated by the used oil:
Anh Kiet/Quang Phong
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the authorities of Hoa Binh Province and Hanoi City to direct Song Da Water Investment JSC (Viwasupco) to address the polluted tap water from the Da River, discovered last week.
Authorities have been asked to find the truck that was used to pour engine oil into a spring near Song Da Water plant. The oil spill has been identified as the cause of the foul smell of the tap water used to supply residents of Hanoi.