Nicotex Thanh Thai Joint Stock Company, which was recently found dumping untreated hazardous chemicals in the northern province of Thanh Hoa's Cam Van Commune, received a fine of over 421 million VND (20,000 USD).

Provincial People's Committee Vice Chairman Nguyen Duc Quyen said on September 18 that the committee asked the company to sign contracts with waste treatment companies to deal with the hazardous waste.

The case came to light in mid-August after residents in Cam Van complained to local authorities that the company was dumping untreated chemicals.

After conducting an investigation, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's Vietnam Environment Administration uncovered several areas where the company had buried expired chemicals and pesticides. So far, the investigators have been unable to establish the extent and duration of the damage.

In co-operation with the committee, the administration isolated polluted areas and is working to prevent the pollution from spreading to surrounding areas.

Additionally, local residents of Cam Van and Cam Tam communes in Cam Thuy district and Yen Lam commune in Yen Dinh district were provided with two-day free medical check-ups beginning on September 11.

The procedures, conducted by a team of doctors from different provincial hospitals, aimed to see if the chemicals had affected the health of local residents.

The team also took samples of water and food sources in the area for testing and recommended that local people not use water sources suspected to be contaminated.

The committee has sent a report on the company's environmental law violations to the Prime Minister, containing results from tests run by the Plant Protection Department on 13 samples of soil, water and discharged waste.

Findings revealed the waste contained Cyper-methrin, a highly toxic substance, in quantities 9,000 times the legal limit. Soil was also found to contain traces of the substance, over 60 times the allowed level.

Nguyen Duc Viet, director of the company during the 1998-2005 period, conceded the company had buried around 1.38 tonnes of expired chemicals and pesticides in 10 areas surrounding the company, from 2000.

The action was also admitted by Nguyen Thanh Nam, CEO of Nicotex JSC.-VNA