Army to decontaminate Hanoi warehouse blaze site

By Vo Hai, Hoang Thuy   September 11, 2019 | 12:16 am PT
Army to decontaminate Hanoi warehouse blaze site
Members of the Military Institute of Environment and Chemistry collect samples from the area surrounding the burnt Rang Dong light bulb warehouse in Hanoi, September 5, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Hung.
The Vietnamese army will decontaminate the Hanoi warehouse and surrounding areas, following a fire that released 15.2-27.2 kilograms of mercury into the environment.

Different decontamination methods are being considered to best ensure environmental safety, Pham Van Ty, deputy chief of the secretariat of the National Committee for Incident, Natural Disaster Response and Search and Rescue said Tuesday.

Earlier, Le Manh Tien, deputy head of the office of the committee, had said that the army’s chemical division can completely decontaminate toxins around the warehouse fire.

"The army has decontaminated chemical pollution several times, the latest case being a 30-ton chemical spill at sea. Though the spill spread quickly, it had been dealt with successfully," Tien noted.

The Rang Dong Light Source and Vacuum Flask JSC must transfer all of its waste to a treatment facility and cooperate with the chemical division in decontaminating the areas surrounding the fire, and relocate the factory in Thanh Xuan Trung Ward to a different location, Hanoi People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung said Tuesday.

The chemical division will oversee the collection and treatment of the company’s waste as well as the decontamination process. Resulting costs are to be paid by the Rang Dong Company, Chung added.

The Hanoi Sewage and Drainage Company has been tasked with clearing the sewage systems in the areas surrounding the Rang Dong warehouse before September 20; the Thanh Xuan District People’s Committee along with the Hanoi Department of Health will provide free health checks for kindergarteners and their caretakers in Thanh Xuan Trung and its neighbor Ha Dinh Ward.

The five-hour blaze that started at 6 p.m. on August 28 destroyed a third of the inventory at the 6,000-square-meter warehouse belonging to the Rang Dong company.

Investigations have only revealed that storage procedures were the cause of the fire. The exact cause is yet to be determined.

The Vietnam Environment Administration said Sunday that 15.2-27.2 kilograms of mercury had been released into the environment following the fire.

People living nearby have been moving out of their homes due to health concerns.

Three hundred and twenty people living in Ha Dinh and Thanh Xuan Trung wards have been tested for mercury poisoning since Friday, but "none showed signs of abnormal, acute poisoning," Tran Nhi Ha, deputy director of the city Department of Health, said.

Rang Dong, a leading manufacturer of lighting products and equipment, has estimated the loss from the fire at VN150 billion ($6.4 million).

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