Acid factory "burning our eyes," say residents

Residents in Kangon village, Latpadaung, have been expressing health concerns over a sulphuric acid plant that is making residents in the area become ill.

The plant, operated by the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH), is just 100 yards away from the village and residents claim the factory is engulfing their homes in acidic fumes.

About 200 people have taken ill with vomiting and sore throats.

A resident from Kangon village said her eight-year old daughter complained of a sore throat and a stomach-ache.

“She said her eyes started burning so we checked on her and noticed the fumes carried along by the wind,” said the girl’s mother. “Then our eyes started feeling itchy and burning.”

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On Sunday, about 500 residents marched to the Mogyo acid plant to demand its suspension.

Four of the protest leaders were called to a meeting with the plant’s supervisors and local government officials. After the meeting, an official from the UMEH, speaking to the rest of the protestors, said they would begin inspecting the plant.

“We have just discussed the situation with government officials and will be explaining this to the Chief Minister as well,” said an official from the UMEH. “We will be inspecting the factory tomorrow and will present our findings to senior officials.”

In a report last year, the Latpadaung Investigation Commission, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi to look into operations at the nearby copper mine, said the factory was hazardous.

The commission recommended an investigation into the factory’s operations.

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