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Rang Dong Warehouse Cleanup Begins as Environment Ministry Says Area is Safe

A team of experts from both the military and civilian agencies arrived at the warehouse yesterday.

According to VnExpress, over 130 personnel began decontaminating the Rang Dong warehouse, with army vehicles and other supplies showing up at 8am yesterday.

The first step was to spray water over the site, which would help to prevent dust particles laced with mercury from spreading through air.

The work begins more than two weeks after a massive fire ripped through the facility, beginning a stretch of time fraught with confusion and conflicting information for local residents.

Also on Thursday, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha told the same news source that the area around Rang Dong is now safe.

He said the fire "was a chemical incident that led to an environmental incident," while adding that "pollution following the fire is mainly limited to inside the warehouse."

Meanwhile Josef Pacyna, a professor at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Poland, told the newspaper that officials need to release a map of areas impacted by mercury released during the fire, as the compound can become toxic at a later date.

The professor explained that the mercury in question is inorganic, meaning it is not toxic, but it could become organic after being absorbed by soil or food products like seafood.

Pacyna noted particular concern over the fact that the environment ministry found mud samples nearly one kilometer away from the warehouse with mercury concentrations that are six times higher than normal. He believes mercury has been released into the local environment for much longer than just the two weeks since the blaze.

[Photo via Wikipedia]

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