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Villagers demand action over dust

Cement factory pollution 'killing crops and damaging health'

Villagers demand action over dust
a farmer wears a respiratory mask while working in a rice field near the factory reporter, Hue city

February 22, 2011

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Angry villagers from a central Vietnam parish are to protest to authorities and demand firm action over what they say is chronic pollution caused by emissions from a Hong Kong-owned cement factory. “We plan to petition officials soon to force them to put a stop to all the clouds of dust that’s been pumped into the air for years,” a Catholic man from Son Cong parish in Thua Thien-Hue province said. The man, who didn’t wish to be named, said villagers have already protested to factory officials and demanded the plant be moved from the area and that farmers be compensated for crop damage which he says the emissions have caused. The factory run by Luks Industrial Limited is located in Van Xa village and is only 900 meters away from the local church. It has been producing cement since 2007. Many locals say dust from the factory is damaging their crops and causing health problems. “Dust is covering everything. We have to wear hats and gas masks all day,” said Martha Vo Thi Lan Anh, a Catholic farmer. She said dust had recently killed the entire rice crop in her 1,500-square-meter paddy costing her three million dong (US$140) in lost revenue. The mother of five said two of her children are suffering from respiratory problems. Marie Hoang Thi Gai, whose house is 350 meters away from the factory, said 100 villagers protested in front of the factory on November 20. Local government authorities asked factory officials then to control emissions and compensate people for crop damage, she added. However the factory is continuing to blow dust and smoke into the air, the 50-year-old woman complained. John Tran Ba Xuan, a local lay leader, said Catholic nuns from Hue are handing out free medicine to 400 local patients with respiratory problems. Son Cong parish serves 860 Catholics among a total local population of 8,000. VT13377.1642
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