Click here to Lao version/ຄລິກບ່ອນນີ້ເພື່ອອ່ານພາສາລາວ
Residents at Ban Natham, PakNguem District, Vientiane
Province, are being gravely affected by toxic water leaking from a cassava
factory, as the waaste water is not only killing a large amount of fish but
also destroying the villagers' livelihood because they are prohibited from
fishing and selling fish caught in the contaminated water.
Mr. Sengmaly Sengvathana, President of Laos-Indochina Lt.
and owner of the cassava flour processing plant in Pak Nguem District, admitted
that waste water from the plant have flowed into Nonghan, killing a large
amount of fish in the 210-hectare lake.
However, the company has addressed the problem, primarily by pumping out
the contaminated water and buying fish that villagers caught from the lake to
dispose of them.
Mr. Sengmaly further explained that, because of heavy
rainfalls during the past two weeks, some of the plant's waste water treatment
reservoirs overflowed, causing contaminated water to drift into the lake.
The plant was required to build a total of 11 waste water
treatment reservoirs , of 50 meters in width, 250 meters in length, and 8
meters in depth, on over 20 hectares of land. But so far only four have been
built and in use. Consequently, officials
from the Natural Water and Environment Department of Vientiane Prefecture,
expressed concern that there may be many more recurrences of this incident
because of possible heavy rainfalls in the future.
The contamination of Nonghan Lake has resulted in a loss of
income for the Natham villagers, who support their families by catching fish
from the lake and taking their catches to sell in markets in Vientiane, earning
roughly 100,000 kips or about US$120 daily. The villagers are now without a
livehood as Lao authorities have issued an order prohibiting fishing in the
lake to avoid harmful effects on the
people and their health. There are 340 families in Natham village, and 70% of
them rely on selling fishing from Nanghan at the markets in Vientiane city; and
each of them needs an income of at least 50,000 Kip to cover the family's daily
expenses. Thus, being prevented from
fishing means that the majority of Natham villagers are deprived of income
sources to meet their family's daily needs.
Songrit Pongern reported in Lao on June 10, 2009. For more details in
Lao, listen to his report or read our Lao version. (English translation by
Buasawan Simmala and Dara Baccam)