Bauxite plants are safe: environment minister

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Environment minister Pham Khoi Nguyen has reassured legislators of the safety of two bauxite plants under construction in Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces.

"The bauxite mining project in the Central Highlands was assessed and approved to be of the highest quality," he told the month-long legislature session on Tuesday (November 2).

He said a board in charge of reviewing the project's environmental assessment report, set up by the investor Vietnam National Coal, Mineral Industries Holding Corporation Ltd. (Vinacomin) and chaired by his ministry, was the biggest ever.

The board includes 21 members, 18 of whom are scientists that are professors and directors of scientific institutes and centers who have studied bauxite mining in Australia, Brazil and China, he said.

Nguyen also assured that the design and the materials used to build the red sludge reservoirs were perfectly safe and would ensure there would be no leaks or spills of toxic mud.

He said the ministry has requested that Vinacomin to design a 50-hectare buffer zone to contain any red mud if the reservoir burst.

"We have asked Vinacomin to propose the safest solution to avoid sludge spills. A team was also dispatched to Hungary to study the sludge reservoir that burst. After their return, we will review the environment assessment report and based on the opinions of scientists and residents, we may make amendments," he said.

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