Concern in Thailand and Laos after acid spill threatens Mekong River

Sylvie Claire / April 12, 2024

A truck carrying over 30 tonnes of sulphuric acid overturned last Wednesday in Luang Prabang, Laos, causing a leak of this highly dangerous product into the Nam Khan River, a tributary of the Mekong, several Thai media report. The incident is being closely monitored by local authorities, who are concerned about the consequences for water quality.
 
The Thai and Laotian authorities have decided to release water from a dam to dilute the sulfuric acid and mitigate its effects downstream in Thailand. Checks carried out to date to assess water quality have revealed nothing alarming.
 
But there's plenty to worry about as next weekend sees the Songkran water festival, which marks the Thai New Year according to the lunar calendar. The festivities include street parties and crazy water fights using river water. It's also party time in Laos, which also has a water festival to celebrate the New Year. Every year, the festivities attract large numbers of tourists from all over the world.
 
The Mekong, one of the world's longest rivers, winds its way for some 4,350 kilometers through six different countries (China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam).
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