The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has proposed factories, including Rang Dong Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC’s facility make plans to relocate, away from residential areas to avoid similar incidents.
Firefighters spray water on the fire at the Rang Dong light bulb warehouse. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has proposed factories make plans to relocate, away from residential areas in major cities, following the Rang Dong warehouse fire – PHOTO: VNA
Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan noted at a regular Cabinet meeting on September 4 that the fire had caused heavy losses and damage to the environment.
“We asked the Hanoi government to urge Rang Dong Company to relocate their facility instead of rebuilding it at the same location to prevent a recurrence of this incident,” Nhan remarked, adding that the city plans to have all factories moved out of residential areas.
Nhan pointed out that after the fire, the competent agencies had held several meetings to quantify the volume of materials and chemicals released into the atmosphere.
Test results showed that within a 200-meter radius of the fire, mercury levels were at an alarming level, adversely affecting people’s health, based on the World Health Organization’s standards, Nhan stressed.
One out of eight samples from the factory’s wastewater was contaminated with mercury. Moreover, 12 out of 13 sediment samples, mainly taken from the To Lich River, one kilometer away from the firm’s discharge drain, had mercury levels that exceeded the safety limit by 6.1 times.
This was an unsafe chemical fire, harming people’s health, polluting the environment and causing heavy losses, Nhan said.
Given the test results, the ministry asked Rang Dong Company to cover and isolate the burned areas to block the spread of the chemicals.
In addition, the firm was told to collect ashes from the fire and treat them according to environmental standards.
Residents living within a 500-meter radius of the fire were advised to take steps to protect their health and have regular medical exams.
The fire broke out at a warehouse owned by Rang Dong Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC in Thanh Xuan Trung Ward of Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi City, at 6 p.m. on August 28.
After many hours of fighting the fire, the flames were finally put out, though much of the warehouse, measuring hundreds of square meters, had been destroyed.
Average risk of health hazards following Rang Dong fire: ministry
The harmful effects and scale of the impact of the Rang Dong warehouse fire on August 28 are at average levels, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha said at a meeting on September 3.
|A technician checks the scene of the fire. The harmful effects and scale of the impact of the Rang Dong warehouse fire on August 28 are at average levels – PHOTO: VNA|
Addressing the meeting with the ministries of Health and of Industry and Trade, the Hanoi government; the Institute of Chemistry, under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology; and many scientists, the minister stated that the fallout from the blaze was under control.
The minister, however, proposed Rang Dong Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC, the owner of the warehouse where the fire broke out, should cover and isolate the regions at high risk of pollution to avoid the spread of chemicals.
Besides this, the firm was told to collect ashes from the fire and treat them in line with environmental standards, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.
Also, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment proposed the firm and the Hanoi government collaborate with the Ministry of National Defence to eliminate chemical residues and heavy metals scattered by the inferno.
In addition, Minister Ha proposed the Hanoi government work with Rang Dong Company to quantify and publish the volume of materials and chemicals released into the atmosphere and the anticipated health impact to avoid debates and the spread of conflicting information.
The Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment on August 31 announced that it had checked the warehouse and found the amalgam stored in three refrigerators, which were left undamaged by the fire. The firm had been using the amalgam to replace the mercury in its light bulbs and compact lamps.
Earlier, many experts pointed out that 50% of the amalgam is mercury, adding that when the light bulbs are burned, mercury is still released into the air and could harm people.
Soil samples tested for mercury contamination after Rang Dong's inferno
Motorists wear masks when passing by the scene of a fire at Rang Dong Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC’s factory in Hanoi – PHOTO: VNA
Although initial tests have shown no contamination, officials have taken 15 samples of soil, water, and air in a residential area to determine whether mercury has escaped into the environment near where a fire broke out at the Rang Dong light bulb warehouse in Hanoi on Wednesday.
The National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health (NIOEH), under the Ministry of Health, took 15 samples yesterday, and will work through the upcoming holiday to determine whether there is mercury residue in the affected areas. The test results will be released in the next five days.
NIOEH head Doan Ngoc Hai was quoted by Thanh Nien newspaper as saying that local residents living near the factory fire should pay close attention to their health.
According to Hai, mercury will spread into the environment through water and air, faster than it does through soil.
Rang Dong Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC issued a notice on the same day, pledging to invite experts to assess the environmental impact of the fire and hire personnel to deal with environmental issues, as well as ensure good health conditions for its employees and neighboring residents.
The light bulb manufacturer also said it had studied and stocked other materials to replace the liquid mercury it previously used.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment issued a warning yesterday over a possible increase in chemical contamination, following the factory fire in Thanh Xuan Trung Ward, Thanh Xuan District.
The ministry voiced concern about contaminated surfaces and underground water when there were heavy downpours in the city from August 29 to 30. They advised local people to be cautious about water supplies in the vulnerable areas.
The two ministries and the capital city are evaluating contamination levels that might affect human health.
Apart from that, the district-level government said in a statement that it had invited specialized agencies, including the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment, to monitor air and water quality in the area.
First tests carried out yesterday show no contamination, but they are just for reference and will not serve as final test results. SGT
Fire ravaged Hanoi-based Rang Dong Light Source & Vacuum Flask Jsc for hours on Wednesday evening, which is forecasted to bring about huge losses.
The Rang Dong JSC has said it no longer uses mercury and other toxic chemicals in it products, clearing concerns over possible contamination after the fire at its light bulb warehouse on Wednesday.