Swiss-invested cement factory to take toxic Ha Long oil

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Containers loaded with 7,000 liters of contaminated oil sit outdoors at a port near Ha Long Bay. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency Containers loaded with 7,000 liters of contaminated oil sit outdoors at a port near Ha Long Bay. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency

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Authorities in the northern province of Quang Ninh will remove 7,000 liters of toxic oil from the edge of the world-renowned Ha Long Bay this month and dispose of them at the Swiss-invested Holcim cement factory in the Mekong Delta.
News website Dan Tri cited a source from provincial authorities as saying the PCB-laced oil will leave the bay for the factory in Kien Giang Province in several days
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), a chemical group associated with endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity, is an illegal substance in Vietnam.
The organic chemical is described as a dangerous carcinogen under Vietnamese law.
The oil was imported by the state-owned Cuu Long Company in old transformers purchased in South Korea in November 2007.
Quang Ninh officials fined Cuu Long for importing the machines in 2008 and ordered the company to return the transformers, which were intended for use in the construction of a thermal power plant.
The exporter refused to take them back.
The oil idled in the rusting devices, which sat covered in canvas at Cai Lan Port, on the edge of the UNESCO world heritage site, until last May when the transformers began to leak.
Cuu Long pumped out the oil and transferred it to 35 barrels packed into two shipping containers.
The plan in August was to move the containers to a state-owned automobile yard in the nearby Hai Duong Province where a cement company would dispose of it.
But Quang Ninh authorities and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment have now decided to move the containers to the Holcim cement factory -- the only facility in the whole country with the technology to destroy PCBs.
A ministry source said Cuu Long will have to cover the oil's transportation over a distance of more than 2,000 kilometers.
Holcim is capable and properly-equipped to transport the oil, the official said.

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