Lao Cai copper refining plant discharges hazardous waste

HA NOI — Hundreds of tonnes of untreated industrial waste were discharged from the Lao Cai Copper Refining Plant (LCRP) at the Tang Loong Industrial Zone in Lao Cai Province.

The plant is able to produce 10,000 tonnes of copper a year, which fulfils one third of the country’s demand for copper. The plant discharges about 16.5 tonnes of slag each month. Hundreds of tonnes of industrial waste stored inside the plant began to seep into the environment after heavy rains flooded the factory.

Tang Loong Industrial Zone lacked waste treatment facilities, said LCRP’s director Vu Ngoc Hoa.

“We have looked for units that could help us treat industrial waste, but we haven’t found any yet,” said Hoa.

Treating and properly disposing of industrial waste was not addressed when the plant was designed and created.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment supports an initiative to survey the area and draft a plan to solve the site’s waste treatment shortcomings, according to Lao Cai Environment Protection Department’s head Nong Thi Bich Thuy.

The provincial people’s committee has said that the plant needs to strictly follow environmental protection laws.

There have been two incidents in the past six months, where toxic acid and fumes escaped from the copper facility.

The environmental police inspected the industrial zone last month, but they have not issued a report on their findings.

A natural resources and environment representative said most plants in the zone are using antiquated chemicals and technology that had been imported from China. Industrial pollution is widespread in the province and in neighbouring areas. — VNS


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