Raging cancer and abnormal numbers

 VietNamNet Bridge - According to unofficial statistics from the people and the governments of communes located around the Thach Khe iron mine (Ha Tinh province), there are nearly 100 people with cancer in recent years, an unusual number.

Cancers, the obsession at an iron mine

The culprit is the water?

Water from the well of Mr. Duc’s family (his father and mother died of cancer)
 in Thuong Hai hamlet is heavily infected with alum.

Many people in Thach Hai commune, where cancer is the most terrible obsession, said that after the Thach Khe iron mine exploration project was kicked off, the groundwater has dropped down and they have had to drill a dozen meters deeper to get water.

However, water from wells is heavily affected by alum, with an unpleasant odor.

Mr. Nguyen Van Duc, in Thuong Hai hamlet, whose father just died of cancer, led us to his family’s drilling well, pumped up a little of opaque yellow water, with a very unpleasant odor.

"Previously, drilling wells were only 6m deep to yield abundant, clear water. But after the Thach Khe iron mine project began, almost all families had to drill new wells, to the depth from 15-20m, but the water is heavily infected with alum," Duc said.

Mr. Duong Dinh Toan, Secretary of the Youth Union, a deputy of the People’s Council of Thach Hai commune, has his father-in-law – Mr. Tran Dinh Thu recently died of esophageal cancer. Toan said that the water is the culprit that makes many people die of cancer.

The well of Mr. Truong Quoc Thanh, chief official of Lien Hai hamlet, is also badly infected with alum. The well has been abandoned. The family has to carry water from a very old well that was dug in the French-ruled period.
Thanh also said that after the Thach Khe iron mine was put into operation, the groundwater dropped. Many households had to drill new wells that are a dozen meters deeper than the old ones but they are infected with alum.

He was also concerned that due to the use of heavily alum infected water that many people got cancer.

Some families stopped using alum water from wells. They built tanks to collect rainwater for use. But most locals still have to use alum water from wells.

In village 3 of Thach Khe commune, Ms. Pham Thi Cuc, 52, also uses alum contaminated water from drilling wells. Cuc said after the iron mining project was put into operation, her family had to drill a deeper well, but the water is contaminated with alum. She also guessed that alum water caused cancer.

What is happening?

Ms. Truong Thi Lan in Lien Hai village, whose 3-year-old grandson suffers from retinal cancer, lamented: "Seeing so many people with cancer, died of cancer without knowing the cause, we are puzzled."

According to the Thach Hai commune People's Committee, in Dai Hai and Lien Hai hamlets alone, there were 54 people with cancer in the last 3 years.

"Now we are very worried. We have no heart and mind for doing anything,” said Mr. Duc from Thuong Hai village.

According to the health station of Thach Hai commune, from late 2009 to present, the commune has 14 people who died of cancer, 7 who are currently cancer patients. In the last 10 years, the commune had 88 people died of cancer.

In Thach Khe and Thach Dinh communes, nearly 40 people caught this evil disease since 2008.

Chairman of Thach Hai commune, Mr. Nguyen Trung Chien said, the number of cancer cases in Thach Hai is too high. In the last 5 years, the death toll by cancer in Thach Hai increased 3 times compared to the previous period.

The highest numbers of cancer cases belong to Lien Hai and Dai Hai hamlets, which are very near the iron mine.

"People have long been puzzled, worried. We beseech the higher authorities to do something like collecting water samples to test and making conclusions and taking solutions so that people feel assured," Chien said.

Mr. Duong Dinh Tien, chairman of Thach Khe commune also confirmed the number of deaths due to cancer in the commune increased quickly in the past 5 years. Particular, more residents of the villages that are near the iron mine died of cancer.

According to officials of the two communes, in meetings with the voters, the local governments and the local people expressed their concerns, asked specialized bodies to research and tell them what is happening. However, they have received no answer.

Tran Van - Duy Tuan