Noxious fine dust in central Vietnam revealed to be oil-refining chemical

By Pham Linh   November 15, 2022 | 11:44 pm PT
Noxious fine dust in central Vietnam revealed to be oil-refining chemical
Piles of fine dust collected from a home near the Dung Quat refinery in Quang Ngai Province, October 31, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Linh
The fine, noxious dust that invaded over 1,000 homes in the central Quang Ngai Province two weeks ago were revealed to be oil-refining chemicals from the Dung Quat refinery.

According to a document sent from Binh Son District to the Quang Ngai People's Committee, the mysterious dust that appeared on October 30 and 31 in Binh Tri and Binh Hai communes were originated from the refinery.

During an inspection at a polypropylene manufacturing workshop of the Dung Quat refinery, authorities collected samples taken from the facility's chimneys, with color resembling that of the dust reported by locals.

There was an increase of dust level at the workshop due to an emergency stoppage of dust-filtering devices from 8 p.m. October 30 to midnight due to risks of explosions. However, the average dust level throughout the day remained within acceptable standards.

As the stoppage happened at night and the fact that there were strong winds at the time, it was not possible to observe the environment outside of the workshop, according to the Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical company, which runs the Dung Quat refinery. The company then dealt with the issue and resumed the dust-filtering process.

The main components of the dust were aluminum oxide (56%), silicon dioxide (40%) and other substances. The dust is not listed among harmful wastes.

Binh Son District has requested the Quang Ngai People’s Committee to ask the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment to monitor the Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical company and figure out the cause of the problem. The company is also requested to release info and inform authorities should incidents happen.

The Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical company said the propagation of fine dust is an unintended incident during operation, and that the problem has been resolved. The factory is now working at 112% capacity, the company said.

"The increase is capacity is to satisfy oil and gas demand and has nothing to do with the incident," a company representative said.

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