Toxic oil to be moved from Ha Long Bay for disposal

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Two shipping containers that now house 7,000 liters of PCB-contaminated transformer oil imported from South Korea have been sitting on the edge of Ha Long Bay for seven years. Photo credit: Lao Dong Two shipping containers that now house 7,000 liters of PCB-contaminated transformer oil imported from South Korea have been sitting on the edge of Ha Long Bay for seven years. Photo credit: Lao Dong

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After spending seven years on the edge of Ha Long Bay, 7,000 liters of toxic oil will be moved inland as officials in Quang Ninh Province prepare for its disposal.
Officials from Quang Ninh’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment arrived at their decision on Monday with representatives from the state-owned Cuu Long Company which imported a machine loaded with toxic oil from South Korea in November 2007.
The plan is to send the PCB-laced oil to an automobile repair yard 35 kilometers away this week.
The yard belongs to the state-owned coal and mining group Vinacomin which agreed to house it for one month before a cement company disposes of it, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported.
Cuu Long imported three old transformers for the construction of a thermal power plant but one turned out to be loaded with oil laced with toxins linked to endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity.
In July 2008, Quang Ninh inspectors fined the company and ordered it to return the transformers but the exporter refused to take them back.
The oil idled in the rusting devices, which sat covered in canvass at Cai Lan Port, on the edge of the UNESCO world heritage site, until last May when it began to leak.
Cuu Long pumped out the oil and stored it in 35 barrels packed into two shipping containers.
Nguyen Hong Quy, deputy director of Vinacomin Environment Company, said his company has sufficient staff and resources to secure the oil for one month.
Quy said the provincial government needs to ensure the transfer goes safely and smoothly.
Officials said one 15 kilometer stretch of the proposed route is rough; an experienced drivers will be needed.
The oil barrels will be reinforced for the journey.
Hoang Danh Son, deputy director of Quang Ninh’s environment department, said: “We have to be extremely careful.”
Son called for the forces involved to act urgently but carefully.
“The transfer must wrap up by the end of this week,” he told Lao Dong newspaper.
Son said the environmental ministry is closely monitoring the transfer and will license the Thanh Cong Cement Company in the nearby Hai Duong Province to destroy the oil. 
Details of how the firm will do so are not yet available.

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