The Hanoitimes - Head of Rang Dong JSC has admitted that all 480,000 fluorescent light bulbs that were burnt in the fire contained liquid mercury.
It is estimated that between 15.2 and 27.2 kilograms of mercury have been released into the environment when Hanoi-based bulb factory was ablaze last week, said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE).
The information was confirmed by Hoang Van Thuc, Deputy Director General of MONRE's Vietnam Environment Administration, local media reported.
Rang Dong Light Source and Vacuum Flask Joint Stock Company or Rang Dong JSC, whose warehouse caught fire on August 28, had previously reported to the authorities that it had been using Amalgram (an alloy of mercury with other metallic elements) in lieu of liquid mercury for its light bulb production since 2016.
But in a latest move, the company’s head has admitted that all 480,000 fluorescent light bulbs that were burnt in the fire contained liquid mercury.
Smoke rise from a fire at Rang Dong light bulb warehouse in Hanoi on August 28. Photo: Kinhtedothi.vn
In a report released on September 8, VEA said within a 1,000-meter radius of the fire, the amount of mercury in the air was at a level acceptable under Vietnam’s national environmental standards as well as that of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Rang Dong JSC admitted the truth after field examination conducted by by Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA).
However, inside the warehouse area, the mercury level had exceeded WHO warning levels by 1.532 times, as opposed to the 10-30 times announced at a press conference September 4 by the MONRE's Deputy Minister Vo Tuan Nhan.
Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said that Rang Dong JSC will be responsible for dealing with pollution in the area of the fire, and would have to provide authorities with information on the origins of mercury stored in its warehouse, as well as other documents relevant to its storage.
A staff of the Institute of Military Environmental Chemistry takes water sample at the scene. Photo: Tran Thuong
Hanoi’s mayor affirmed with VnExpress on September 9 that the city’s authority had sent a written request on September 5 to the Ministry of Defense for support in handling environmental pollution after the warehouse fire.
Nearly 1,000 residents around Rang Dong JSC get checkup
Residents near Rang Dong JSC had started moving out of their homes the following days due to health concerns. Several people reported unusual fatigue and stinging eyes.
Hoang Van Thuc said last week that the evacuation of residents within a 500-meter radius of the fire site should wear masks and long-sleeved clothes whenever they get near the scene of the fire.
People within the 500-meter radius can get free health checkups from the Hanoi Department of Health, Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said last week.
The Hanoi Department of Health is providing free checkup for people living around Rang Dong JSC from September 6 to September 12.
People within the 500-meter radius of the fire site can get free health checkups from the Hanoi Department of Health. Photo: Vo Thu
As many as 927 people in Ha Dinh and Thanh Xuan Trung wards got health check in the past three days, of them 320 people had to go to the hospital for mercury test samples.
Most of the people coming for medical examination are aged between 41 and 60. They all live or work within an area of 500-meter from Rang Dong JSC.
A five-hour blaze that started at 6:00 pm on August 28 destroyed a third of the inventory at the 6,000-square-meter warehouse belonging to the Rang Dong JSC, a leading manufacturer of lighting products and equipment.
Initial investigations show that the cause of the fire stemmed from storage procedures and there was no sign of sabotage.
Police are still investigating the fire and have not yet ascertained its cause.