Vientiane, Lao PDR, 8 April 2024 – On the afternoon of 3 April 2024, a truck carrying 30 tons of sulfuric acid encountered an accident in Ban Phou Xang Kham village in Luang Prabang, resulting in a significant spill in the canal nearby. The incident occurred when the truck transporting sulfuric acid toppled over, leading to the leakage of approximately 50% of its contents. The incident site is located approximately 300 meters from the Nam Khan River and about 6 kilometers from the confluence of the Mekong River.

On April 4, local authorities erected barriers to prevent the acid-contaminated water from reaching the river. The distances from the confluence of the Mekong River to various points downstream, including Xayaburi Dam, Chiang Khan station (Thailand), and Stung Streng station (Cambodia), are approximately 105 km, 235 km, and 935 km, respectively. The MRC Secretariat remained in close contact with the Lao Government authorities and officially informed the MRC member countries on 5 April.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation due to the highly corrosive nature of sulfuric acid and its potential harm to living organisms, a team of experts along with provincial staff averted a potential environmental catastrophe through swift containment and remediation efforts over the weekend.

A comprehensive site inspection was conducted on 7 April by the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, Lao National Mekong Committee, the Department of Water Resources, the National Resources and Environmental Research Institute (NRERI). The inspection encompassed sampling and field measurements at multiple points along the canal, Nam Khan River, and Mekong River to assess the spill's impact.

Location of sampling points on 7 April 2024.

Field measurements revealed that while there were initial impacts observed at the incident site, including reduced dissolved oxygen levels and elevated sulfate concentrations, the water quality in the Nam Khan River and Mekong River remained unaffected. The implementation of barriers from local authorities and neutralization measures effectively contained the spill's effects, ensuring minimal environmental damage. The MRC Secretariat, in collaboration with relevant partners, will continue to monitor and assess water quality at the incident canal over the forthcoming days, ensuring the protection of the environment and the public health of residents residing along the river.

For further information, please contact:

  1. Chandaly MAO, Communication Officer for Press, email:
  2. Phan Nam Long, Water Quality Officer, email:

Note to Editors: The MRC is an intergovernmental organization established to promote and coordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources in the Mekong River Basin. Since its establishment in 1995, the MRC has played a crucial role in facilitating cooperation among the riparian countries to address shared challenges and opportunities in the basin. For more information, visit