Farmers claim $337,000 from canal polluter in southern Vietnam

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Farming households in the southern province of Dong Nai Friday asked a state-owned company to pay over VND7 billion (US$336,700) in compensation for polluting a canal by dumping untreated waste.

Officials in Tam An Commune said so far 150 households have lodged complaints against Sonadezi Service JSC, which manages the waste treatment plant that was caught last Friday discharging millions of cubic meters of untreated sewage into the Rach Cheo Canal that flows into to the Dong Nai River.

The company is a subsidiary of the state-owned Sonadezi Corporation.

At the meeting with the local authorities and farmer associations that day, the affected farmers also urged related agencies to strictly punish Sonadezi.

Nguyen Van Trai, a farmer, said they had several times informed the authorities about the pollution, but inspectors would always conclude that while the wastewater smelled and "had colors", it satisfied regulated standards.

"If it met standards, why did all plants and fish die?" Trai asked.

On Friday, Dong Nai's Department of Natural Resources and Environment announced that tests showed the wastewater taken from Sonadezi's plant at its Long Thanh Industrial Zone failed to meet many standards.

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For example, its color concentration was three times higher than permitted, while its chemical oxygen demand, which is usually used to measure the amount of organic compounds in water, was 114 milligrams per liter, compared to the regulated 81 milligrams per liter.

The environment department under the Ministry of Public Security (C49) have also said tests of Sonadezi wastewater samples collected at the Ba Cheo Canal last Friday during the raid showed it did not meet many standards..

The department provided no further detail saying they were investigationg the company's operations further.

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