Houaphan Authorities Investigate Chemical Leak from Mining Company

Houaphan Authorities Investigate Chemical Leak from Mining Company
FILE: this image is used only for representational purpose (photo: Pal TV)

Houaphan’s provincial authorities are promptly responding to reports of chemical discharge from Laos-China Rare Mineral Development Company North 2 Limited into a river in Hua Man and Hua Tabun district, Houaphanh Province. The incident sparked outrage among residents, particularly concerning the impact on fish and livestock, vital sources of nutrition for the local population.

In response, provincial authorities launched an investigation and implemented measures to prevent future chemical leaks into local waterways. Currently, water samples are being collected for testing to ascertain the level of contamination in surrounding rivers and streams.

Additionally, the Ministry of Energy and Mines has taken decisive action by issuing a notice mandating the temporary cessation of mining activities until water quality in the affected areas is deemed satisfactory. 

The governor of Houaphanh Province, Khamhampheng​ Saysompheng, also emphasized the importance of compliance with regulations by the Laos-China Rare Mineral Development Company North 2 Limited. While acknowledging the experimental nature of the rare earth mine authorized by the government, he stressed the importance of close monitoring and open discussions about the nature and progress of operations to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Meanwhile, residents have taken to social media platforms to voice their frustration over the provincial government’s handling of the situation. They have raised concerns regarding the potential long-term environmental impact of the chemical discharge and the need for swift and effective measures to safeguard the health and well-being of local communities.

“Many residents in the area who’ve examined along the river for 100 meters all reported that all the fish in the water are no longer alive,” commented a Facebook user, highlighting the impact on local wildlife.

“The authorities should do a better job at choosing and approving projects from [foreigners] because the people who will suffer from their inconsideration are the residents while they swim in a pool of money,” added another user, expressing concerns about the company’s activities.

However, the ongoing investigation and efforts to minimize the impact of the chemical discharge highlight the importance of responsible environmental management and stricter regulations to prevent similar incidents.

Additionally, urgent action is required to address threats such as habitat loss, hydropower dams, and climate change, as highlighted in the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s report “Mekong’s Forgotten Fishes.”