Hundreds of people attend the meeting
Having had enough of both noise and air pollution from the facilities' around- the-clock operations of Dana-Y and Pacific Steel Companies, more than 300 locals from Van Duong 2 Village, in Hoa Lien Commune, assembled outside two companies on March 24 to call for its closure.
The protest was only halted when municipal authorities persuaded them to attend a meeting the next day with the company's management. At that meeting, held on March 25, Nguyen Tan, said "I have two kids who haven't had one day of quiet to study. Noise and dust are everywhere at all hours. It is also making the older people in the community sick."
Residents say they have sent a number of complaints to authorities at many different levels, but they have not been answered.
Another local Truong Van Lung complained angrily, "We've heard that there would be a resettlement programme for us, but nothing like that has come about. How long are we expected to deal with these conditions?" Lung even invited the heads of the two factories to live with the people for a few days to see what it is like.
Others households have complained that the activities from the cranes has not only caused loud noise, but has even led to tremors that damaged their houses.
"Either the factories go or we go. But if we are going to be resettled, we want to know when. If authorities don't do something soon we will have to do something to protect ourselves." exclaimed a local named Pham Mai. The statement received immediate and obvious support.
Since the factories began operations, the companies and residents have never reached agreement about these issues. Without an agreement, the conflict has escalated to the point where people would throw rocks at factory fences.
Ho Nghia Tin, General Director of Dana-Y Steel Company said it has installed two air treatment systems, with one more on the way in order to deal with the air pollution. "We sympathise with the surrounding community for the noise problem. Recently we received a large shipment of material that requires our cranes to work in close proximity to residential areas," Tin said.
Nguyen An, Director of Pacific Steel Company, also explained, "We ask for understanding from our neighbours on these problems. The lower prices of electricity during the nighttime requires us to work our equipment during those hours. But we will also do our best to reduce noise and air pollution."
Nguyen Thu, Chairman of Hoa Lien's People Committee acknowledged that the complaints are justified. He also said that, although the companies said they will protect the environment, so far they haven't made good on their promises, and have even made things worse.
Le Van Hung Vuong, Secretary of Hoa Lien, commented that the companies should not be allowed to operate beyond their capacity to treat their waste. "We asked the factories to fulfill their commitment, respect people's benefit or they will be affected in return." Vuong said.
Also at the meeting, Dang Thuong, Vice Chairman of Hoa Vang People's Committee, said Danang authorities carried out an audit on March 22, which resulted in an order that the agencies quickly compensate the locals. According to authorities in Hoa Vang, they have verified 232 of 260 households in the area have been affected by the steel companies. "District authorities will provide funds for everyone affected to rent housing elsewhere before a final decision on resettlement compensation is reached. We expect that the land for resettlement will be ready by July or August," Thuong said.
Factories' chimney that exhaust smoke at night
The ruined wall that affected from cranes' activities