Vietnam orders power plant to clean up after angry protest

16 Apr 2015 / 17:39 H.

    HANOI: Vietnam on Thursday urged a state-run power firm to clean up its act after angry villagers hurled rocks and petrol bombs and blocked a major highway in a rare protest over pollution from a coal-fired thermal power plant.

    Traffic ground to a halt, with long tailbacks on the country's main highway on Wednesday, after villagers in south-central Binh Thuan province demonstrated over excessive coal dust from the 1,244-megawatt Vinh Tan 2 plant.

    Some protesters were seen throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at police who tried to end the blockade, media reports said, adding that the crowds dispersed late on Wednesday.

    Protests and unrest are rare in Vietnam, where strict surveillance and a climate of fear discourage most rallies.

    The communist government has long kept a lid on the kind of dissent that has dogged some of its neighbours, but experts say widespread use of the Internet and social media to spread information presents a challenge for the authorities.

    Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai ordered Vietnam Electricity (EVN), the plant's parent firm, to ensure environmental safety and minimise the impact of coal dust, the government said on its website ( on Thursday.

    Hai ordered provincial authorities to speak to residents near the plant to deter them from protesting, while EVN said on its website it would cease dumping any coal dust for the next 10 days.

    Vinh Tan 2 was built by China's Shanghai Electric and started operating in September 2014. It is one of three plants in a complex in Binh Thuan. – Reuters

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