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Khounkham District, September 23, 2016    

The Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) has handed over a landfill site for disposal of public waste to authorities in Khounkham District, Khammouane Province, as part of its commitment to community development and environmental protection.

Mr Thavone Keokhamphanh, Deputy District Governor of Khounkham, officially accepted the facility for public ownership, saying the landfill was a valuable community asset.

The facility was built on public land leased to THPC in 2009 with two purposes: to receive waste from construction of the Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project, and to provide a solution to the growing amount of rubbish generated by Khounkham town and surrounding villages, which increased significantly in size following the development of the Theun-Hinboun power plants.

The expansion project was completed in late 2012 and since then THPC has managed the landfill site for public use, instituting recycling projects and training local staff how to run the facility. Any hazardous waste from THPC’s operations, such as engine oil or batteries, has been stored separately from the landfill pits, or passed to specialist contractors for recycling or safe disposal.

Ms Vongchanh Indavong, THPC’s Senior Environment and Commercial Manager, said the facility had been designed to international standards at a cost of around US$150,000. It is lined with geotextiles to minimise seepage of pollutants into the environment and equipped with a series of ponds that store and treat runoff water from the pit area. Ms Vongchanh said the current pit at the landfill could take local rubbish for several more years, depending on how much waste can be recycled. Further pits could also be installed at the site.

Khounkham’s District Office for Natural Resources and the Environment has made an agreement with a local recycling company, which will operate the landfill under contract and use revenue from recycling local rubbish to cover the costs of managing the facility. THPC has meanwhile agreed to continue monitoring wastewater quality at the site for a further year after the handover and will provide district staff with additional training on waste management.

The company has also constructed landfill facilities in three resettlement villages in the Theun-Hinboun project area and is working with communities to improve waste management and increase recycling.

Speaking after the transfer of ownership documents at the Theun-Hinboun site in the district, Mr Thavone said that Khounkham was fortunate THPC had provided so much investment in infrastructure and in villages across the district. Earlier this year the company handed over schools and health centres built for relocated villages along the Hinboun River, and has also invested in roads, irrigation schemes and water and electricity supplies.              

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THPC constructed the landfill pit and water treatment ponds in 2009, and has operated the site for the use of the whole district, handing it over to public ownership in September 2016.

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Khounkham District, June 1, 2016

The people of Phoumakneng village enthusiastically marked National Tree Planting Day on June 1, adding 6,800 saplings to their gardens and public spaces with the assistance of the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC).

District and provincial officials joined THPC staff in planting the trees alongside the villagers, using the occasion to also celebrate World Environment Day.

Soulideth Baomanikhoth, Deputy General Manager of THPC, said that as it does each year, the company provided a variety of trees for the villagers to plant including fruit trees, decorative species and shade providers. This year THPC gave five saplings to every household in the village, with more emphasis put on fruit trees.

Following instruction on how to properly transplant the saplings, villagers planted the trees at their houses and gardens as well as around Phoumakneng's school, meeting hall, health centre and temple. Mrs Noi, a 25-year-old housewife said she was proud and delighted that THPC had organised plantation day at Phoumakneng this year.

“It’s hot work planting the trees”, she said, “but it’s a great idea. This helps us compensate for forest that has been lost over the years. I will come every day to check on my saplings. If there’s a lot of rain, I will add more soil so the plant doesn’t drown. If it’s too dry, I will water it”.

Before the planting got underway, Keolandon Chantaphany, the Governor of Khounkham District read the villagers a speech from Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, urging them to protect forests and maintain biodiversity.

Phoumakneng village was founded in 2010 when five villages living along the Hinboun River moved to a new flood-safe location with houses, farm land and public facilities provided by THPC. The relocation of the villages formed part of the Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project, inaugurated in early 2013. THPC now has a generating capacity of 510 megawatts and has contributed over US$460 million to the Lao state since beginning operations in 1998.

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Khounkham District, June 28, 2016NakhaVaccination004

Two new schools and two new health centres built by the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) are serving communities in Khounkham District, Khammouane.

The health centres, secondary schools and primary schools were constructed over the past year in the new villages of Phaxang and Phakhouak. While they have been open to the public since early 2016, the facilities were officially handed over to local authorities at a ceremony in Ban Phaxang on June 28.

Phaxang and Phakhouak are being built to provide new flood-safe villages for over 750 households along the Hinboun River. THPC has built eight new villages along the Hinboun and Hai rivers as part of the Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project, which was inaugurated in early 2013.

The health centres at Phaxang and Phakhouak cover the populations of six villages and also provide services to other communities in the area. The clinics follow the government Type B standard and come with furniture, medical and office equipment, toilets and medicine supplies. THPC has also organised training sessions for health centre staff on public health management and new techniques.

The new primary and secondary schools also have toilets, while THPC has provided libraries and books, classroom furniture and teaching equipment to foster educational development in the communities. At the handover ceremony, Mrs Surapha Viravong, deputy director of the company’s social and environmental division, said that THPC has invested around US$467,000 in the new schools and health centres. She said that while THPC would continue to support the villagers as they build their livelihoods, the villagers and local authorities would need to take responsibility for managing and maintaining the new public facilities.

Accepting the new facilities on behalf of Khounkham District, district governor Mr Keolandon Chanthaphany said that THPC had done a great deal to boost development across Khounkham, providing various communities with improved housing roads, infrastructure and public services.

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Left and centre: Students arrive at the new Phaxang secondary school to take their end-of-year exams in May 2016. Miss Chanpha, left, washing her hands in the rain, said that the new school has a major advantage over their old village school: the roof does not leak when it rains, making exams much easier to sit.

Right: Action for Lao Children and the National Library have helped THPC establish libraries in all schools at project relocation and resettlement villages.

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AIThvrA student from Laos’s Xieng Khouang province has begun a Master’s degree in Energy Business Management at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Bangkok. Ms Laphongngern Thepphavong started the two-year course in January this year under a grant from THPC and on April 25 attended a ceremony to mark her scholarship.

At the ceremony THPC’s General Manager, Robert Allen, said the company had long wanted to provide an opportunity for Lao students to study energy-related disciplines at a high level, but that it had taken some time to identify both a suitable course and candidate. He expressed THPC’s confidence in AIT as an educational leader in the region, and said he hoped Ms Laphongngern’s example would inspire other Lao students in the future.

Ms Laphongngern, who already holds Bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science and English for teaching from the National University of Laos, said she considers herself fortunate to have the opportunity to study in an international environment, and to experience different languages and cultures.

AIT’s President, Professor Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai commended THPC for giving back to society and contributing towards human resource development.

The THPC scholarship covers all the student’s fees for the course plus travel and visa expenses, and also provides a living allowance. The student has no obligations to the company on completing her degree. THPC also provides scholarships for several undergraduates at Lao universities, runs a primary and secondary school in Khammouane province, and includes community education measures in its social programs.

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