Sugar mill polluter in chief of Mekong Delta river

By Cuu Long   May 15, 2019 | 03:26 pm GMT+7
Sugar mill polluter in chief of Mekong Delta river
Water in the Cai Lon River in Hau Giang Province, southern Vietnam, turns blackish and stinks in May 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Thuan An
Authorities in Hau Giang Province have identified a sugar mill as the culprit responsible for polluting a river so badly that its waters turned black.

Preliminary inspection results show that the sugar mill of Long My Phat Sugarcane, Sugar and Ethanol Joint Stock Company constantly discharges a large amount of untreated effluents into the Cai Lon River and its branches.

The river also receives wastewater from rice mills and livestock breeding and slaughtering facilities, but these volumes are relatively low and the discharge is occasional, said environment inspectors.

The police have been requested to deal with the Long My Phat company for violating environment regulations, the provincial administration said in a statement on Tuesday.

The provincial administration has asked its environment department to collaborate with inspectors from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to carry out a comprehensive inspection of the sugar factory.

Local authorities in affected areas will report to higher authorities for suitable solutions to damage caused.

According to the provincial environment department, the river has been severely polluted since March 22. Many pollution indicators at the river far surpassed permitted levels.

The amount of suspended solids and other chemicals was 1.6-4.4 times the permitted level, and the amount of oxygen in the water was 0-0.7 milligram per liter as against the requirement of more than five milligrams per liter.

Before the provincial authorities came up with their initial findings, local residents had blamed the pollution, which also causes the water to stink badly, on the sugar factory, saying it discharges untreated effluents into the river.

The polluted water has killed nearly all of the frogs, fish and shrimp farmed by some households in the area, they said.

Cai Lon River is the main source of water for Long My Town, whose water treatment plant uses around 4,000 cubic meters of water from the river per day to serve 6,000 families in the area.

But with the water so heavily polluted, the plant has had to turn to groundwater exploitation.

The Cai Lon River is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) long, originating in Long My District in Hau Giang Province and flowing northwest through several districts before merging with the Rach Gia Bay in Kien Giang Province.

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