Factory Run-Off Suspected in Laos Cow Deaths

2018-05-21
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Dead cows are shown in the Xaysettha district of Vientiane, Laos, April 22, 2018.
Dead cows are shown in the Xaysettha district of Vientiane, Laos, April 22, 2018.
Department of Fishery and Livestock, LPDR

Waste run-off from upstream factories may be responsible for the recent deaths of over 40 cows in a village in Laos, local villagers and a government official say.

An investigation into the livestock’s death in the Xaysettha district of the capital Vientiane is now under way, a Fisheries Department official told RFA’s Lao Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

All factories in the area will be inspected to see if they have released contaminants into water sources, and any factories found responsible will have to pay compensation to the farmers whose cows were killed, the official said.

In addition to the 41 cows found dead in Xayasettha’s Ban Xoc Noi village, another 81 died last month in the district’s Ban Na Biane and Ban Phon Thong villages, with officials still collecting evidence in those cases, sources said.

Also speaking to RFA on condition his name not be used, one Ban Xoc Noi villager said that no one will now drink from the village’s river or bathe in it, adding that livestock deaths reported in another district during the last three or four years had stopped after nearby factories were closed.

A Chinese-owned paper mill in the Sepon district of southern Laos’s Savannakhet province has meanwhile been discovered releasing wastewater into a nearby river, killing fish and other aquatic animals, along with several cows.

Animal deaths are increasingly being reported in Laos due to water contaminated by run-off from factory waste or from herbicides and pesticides used on plantation fields, sources in the country say.

In January, a report by the Lao nongovernmental organization Luras pointed to widespread pesticide and herbicide pollution in northeastern Laos's Xiengkhouang province, with preliminary tests showing traces of the contaminants in the blood of 96 percent of the province's residents.

Further testing will be needed to determine how much contamination the province's residents have been exposed to, a Lao public health official told RFA in an earlier report.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Sidney Khotpanya. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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