Toxic red mud from an nearby bauxite mine forced Dao Van Tuyen, a resident of Dong Ben 2 Village in Thuong Am Commune in northern Tuyen Quang Province, to abandon his 1,000-square-metre field for more than a year.
His field is near a bauxite project run by the Hoa An Company, which uses a large earthen reservoir to store the mud waste.
The waste is the main solid waste produced when alumina is extracted from bauxite.
Tuyen said every time it rained, the red mud spilled over into the rice fields, killing everything. He said his and other families in the area had lost their fields under a sea of red mud.
Phan Thi Tan, another resident, said she could not raise fish any more because of the toxic mud. She said she had to spend more than VND20 million (US$900) to build an 80 metre stone-fence around her house to protect it from the mud.
According to a Vietnam News Agency reporter’s investigation, Hoa An Company is exploiting bauxite from an area much larger than has been authorised.
The reporter said the company was not treating the mud correctly and so it created a huge environmental problem.
Dam Thi Tham, a resident of Dong Ben 2 Village, said the company signed a contract to hire one acre from her family for two years in 2009, but had not returned it.
“They said they’re losing money so they can’t return the land and they can’t compensate me,” Tham said, adding that there were 20 other households in the same situation.
Pham Van Tinh, head of the Mineral Natural Resources Unit in Tuyen Quang, said the department would “carry out an examination in the coming time and will impose suitable punishment”.