From 1999 to 2013, Vietnamese pesticide firm Nicotex Thanh Thai JSC discarded large amounts of untreated toxic waste, primarily expired pesticides and other chemical waste. As a result, an estimated 20,000 people in the area have been exposed to severe air, water, and soil pollution. EarthRights worked with communities affected by Nicotex industrial pollution to promote their leadership in demanding access to information and remedies for rights violations.
Nicotex’s toxic waste dumping has reportedly led to increased rates of cancer, respiratory diseases, birth defects, and infertility in the communities of Cam Van, Cam Tan, and Yen Lam. The pollution has also lead to the death of livestock in the area.
The affected communities have called for remedies for damages, further studies of the impact of the toxic waste, and open access to existing information. EarthRights has supported these communities in their campaigns. Investigations have yet to determine the extent of the areas affected by the company’s wrongdoings. The affected communities have also called for studies to determine the extent of the spread of byproducts from the original spill. The byproducts and spread of the original waste must be documented to secure just remedies and medical support for the affected populations.
After the communities voiced their complaints, Nicotex suspended operations in the area in 2013. That year, ten tons of buried toxic waste was unearthed and the provincial government fined Nicotex for $20,000. The government has not pressed criminal charges or pursued compensation from the company. Treatment of the pollution was supposed to begin in January 2014, but Nicotex never submitted their plans to authorities or made them public. It still remains unclear whether the treatment methods used since then, including Fenton reactions, have been properly implemented and therefore effective. In January 2016, EarthRights supported an independent expert from Naresuan University, Thailand, to collect soils and water samples from the site to conduct independent testing in a lab in Thailand.