The People’s Committee of the highland province of Lam Dong ordered environment officials to inspect and report the level of environment damage caused by the controversial Tan Rai bauxite plant, said Mr. Luong Van Ngu, deputy director of the province’s Natural Resources and Environment Department on Thursday.
Reports said that over 200 hectares of coffee, tea and fish pools in Bao Lam District, had been polluted by the wastewater released from the bauxite plant that contains sodium hydroxide (NaOH).
Employees of Cao Nguyen Tea Seedlings Company in Loc Thang Town said that the company found that the wastewater discharged from the alumina plant smelt pungent, effervescent and oily since August. The company reported the case to the Bao Lam District authorities and the management board of the project, but the problem had remained unsolved.
Mr. Luong The Ngu told reporters that the province’s Natural Resources and Environment Department had inspected and found the wastewater released from the underground sewerage of the plant that contained a pH level of 10.5, which is higher than the allowable limit of 8-8.5 in Vietnam.
However, Tran Duong Le, deputy director of the Management Board of the Lam Dong Aluminum-Bauxite Complex Project, said NaOH had indeed entered into the environment from the plant but the board had “corrected” the problem.
In spite of the report of the Aluminum-Bauxite factory, many people living around the plant in Loc Thang Town, Bao Lam District, said they are still not using water from wells for their daily activities or for watering tea and coffee plants.
Many other locals said they were very concerned about the impacts of the contaminated water on their health and the environment.
The department has fined the plant for violating environmental protection laws and requested it to take measures to stop and prevent further pollution.
At the moment the pH level in the tested sample has been much reduced, closely near the safety limit (9.0).