Pollution from flooded coal mines threatens Vietnamese World Heritage site

New York Times, July 30, Austin Ramzy

Heavy rain began falling in the northern province of Quang Ninh on Sunday. Fourteen people were killed in the city of Ha Long, and three died in the city of Cam Pha, according to the state news media.

VietnamcoalashEC

Video of coal ash flooding of village. Source: VNExpress

Environmental groups said that Cam Pha was flooded with waste from nearby coal mines and that the material could threaten Ha Long Bay, a Unesco World Heritage site famous for its steep limestone islands.

“I think that the water pollution will be very severe,” said Nguy Thi Khanh, the executive director of the Green Innovation and Development Center in Hanoi, the capital.

Ms. Khanh said she did not know how much material may have flowed out of flooded coal mines, or whether any of it had reached the bay, as the flooding had made access impossible. But she said that she feared contamination was likely.

See also Waterkeeper Alliance media release on the disaster here.