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Quang Tri residents at risk from contaminated water

QUANG TRI  — The authorities in the central Quang Tri Province have made a list of 52 areas that are heavily contaminated with pesticides leaking from unused warehouses.

The pollutants have been leaking directly into sources for water used daily by the local people for decades.
The pollutants have been leaking directly into sources for water used daily by the local people for decades.

The pollutants have been leaking directly into sources for water used daily by the local people for decades.

The local department of natural resources and environment last week tested groundwater samples taken from the areas and found high levels of pesticides.

The department’s report also affirmed that most of the residents in the contaminated areas used water from wells for their daily needs.

Following reports by a local newspaper, the department investigated and found that there were several warehouses that used prohibited pesticides and were located inside residential areas in the province.

Some of the warehouses were located inside kindergartens and primary schools, including those in Gio Linh, Hai Lang and Trieu Phong districts, and Dong Ha Town.

In the 1990s, pesticides were sent in large quantities to Quang Tri and stored in several warehouses, in an attempt to boost agricultural production in localities that were hit the hardest by bombs during the war. Some of the pesticides were banned because they could harm human beings and the environment.

But the pesticides were not treated properly, and were left for decades in the ruined warehouses, according to the department’s director Nguyen Thanh Loi.

Many of the pesticides leaked out and mixed with the groundwater, leading to high contamination of the water used in daily life, as shown in the tests conducted by the department.

The department has asked the General Department of Environment for help in treating the pesticides, which will cost VND134 billion (US$6.2 million). The treatment process would take years, it said.