A one km stretch of Tra Khuc River that runs through Quang Ngai City has been covered in black oil leaking from a nearby sugar mill since last Tuesday.
QUANG NGAI –
Hundreds of workers and local fishermen have been mobilised to remove the oil from the river surface and collect them in drums.
Several tankers have also arrived at the scene to pump up oil that will be taken back to the sugar mill.
However, the workers say it is almost impossible for them to collect such a large amount of fuel oil.
The oil belongs to Quang Ngai Joint-stock Sugar Company in the city's Quang Phu Ward which is in the middle of relocation to Gia Lai Province.
Cao Minh Tuan, deputy managing director of the company, said that a contractor hired to dismantle the plant carelessly broke a valve of a oil container.
As a result, the oil leaked from the container to nearby sewage ditches that run directly into Tra Khuc River.
Tuan estimated that around 15 tonnes of oil had been leaked into the river.
Representatives of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Environmental Police inspected the scene on Wednesday to find ways to deal with the problem.
"The amount of oil in the ditches is still considerable," said Col. Pham Hung, deputy head of the provincial environmental police, "If we fail to collect it soon, it will be washed into the river by rain.'
He blamed the sugar company for not reporting the leak immediately to relevant authorities, saying the delay had complicated the problem.
"We will monitor the river section closely to gauge the scale of pollution," he said, adding that the company will be penalised accordingly.
Phi Quang Hien, deputy head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, described the pollution in the river as "very serious'.
The department has already collected samples of the water from different locations of the Tra Khuc River for further analysis, he said.
"I have asked the company to clean up all the oil from the river," he said, adding that no further oil will be allowed to leak from the ditches into the river. — VNS