Chinese aluminum maker poisons air, waterways in Hai Duong

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Authorities in Hai Duong Province have found an aluminum factory discharging untreated waste into local waterways, killing paddy fields.


Tests conducted 50 meters away from Chinese-owned East Asia Aluminum, Ltd. early this year have showed that the air contained almost twice the amount of nitric acid than permitted and the noise emitted was louder than the standard.


Sewage samples at the factory showed organic compounds nearly four times higher than allowed, while the amount of oxygen available for aquatic and plant life was too low in the local waterway.


The company was also found to have buried its sludge in the surrounding area.


The company has been given three months until September 23 to clear their sewage from local ditches and compensate farmers whose rice crops were killed by the dirty water, failing which its operations will be suspended.


East Asia Aluminum started operation in August 2009, producing 20,000 tons of aluminum frames and aluminum alloy a year, and residents in Ky Son village of the northern province soon had to suffer excessive noise and a burning smell that made it difficult to breathe.


More than a hectare of paddy fields around the factory were burnt and the water in the local canalwas polluted.


Nguyen Van Ky, an official in Ky Son village, said local farmers planted the new crop in January but the rice died around one week later.


"We tried to pump more water from the canal near the factory into the field but the more water we used, the faster the rice died," Ky said.


"Those who used water from their ponds didn't see their rice die. Then we found out that the canal was near the factory's wall from which a pipe discharged wastewater."


Inspectors from Hai Duong Department of Natural Resources and Environment stepped in response to complaints from local farmers. The company offered to compensate the farmers with VND5.78 million (US$303). The residents rejected that and a subsequent offer of VND50 million and sent complaints to the inspectors.


In April, the province suspended Taiwanese-invested Tung Kuang Industrial Joint Stock Company after the aluminum frame producer was found discharging untreated wastewater into the local Ghe River for several years.


Tung Kuang saved VND80-100 million ($4,209-5,261) a month by doing that, Liu Chien Lin, vice general director of Tung Kuang, said in an April interview with VnExpress.

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