Chinfon in firing line

October 11, 2010 | 10:39
“The public is also urging the local authorities to apply an iron hand to force these factories to stop discharging toxic dust and smoke”

Haiphong city-based Chinfon Cement Corporation’s environmental scandal has deepened public concerns about potentially deadly pollution levels.

Chinfon’s cement manufacturing factory has recently discharged a large volume of cement dust into the environment of Thuy Nguyen district’s Minh Duc town, affecting the lives of the town’s inhabitants, of which 350 households were seriously hit as their houses were located by the factory.

The company’s $463 million factory produces 9,200 tonnes of clinker per day and 3.9 million tonnes of cement per year. Chinfon is a joint venture between Taiwanese-backed Chinfon Vietnam Holding Company Ltd., Haiphong’s People’s Committee and Vietnam Cement Industry Corporation.

The pollution has irritated the public, who then blocked factory traffic between October  1-2, 2010 and asked the city’s people’s committee and Department of National Resources and Environment for help.

“We admit our shortcomings. We have corrected them and we are working with locals to give them some financial support,” said Chinfon general director office head Tong Duy Tan.

However, Tan told VIR that Chinfon’s pollution was just an “unwanted incident”, which was caused by misperforming equipment. “The incident took place within 30 minutes. The discharged dust volume was about 20 tonnes only,” Tan said.

However, locals said Chinfon’s environmental violations had taken place for years.

A 71-year-old resident named Bui Van Thiet told VIR that locals had been suffering from dust and smoke discharged by Chinfon for years. However, the public’s complaints had been ignored by local authorities and the company. “More than 10 locals are suffering from cancer caused by pollution,” said Thiet, who suffers from lung cancer.

Meanwhile, Chinfon’s business motto on its website is “always attaching great importance to keeping and protecting the environment, and abiding by the law on environmental protection.”

According to Minh Duc town People’s Committee, the town is overwhelmed by toxic dust and smoke discharged day and night by over 10 industrial factories, including Chinfon, Haiphong Cement Factory, Pha Rung Shipbuilding Factory, Haiphong Thermo-electricity Plant and Hang Kenh Calcium Carbide Factory, which are located in and around the town.

Tan, however, said that Chinfon was also affected by Haiphong thermo-electricity plant and Hang Kenh calcium carbide factory, which caused the most serious pollution.

“The public is also urging the local authorities to apply an iron hand to force these factories to stop discharging toxic dust and smoke. The public also said it would also block traffic to these factories like they did with Chinfon,” Tan said.

Thuy Nguyen district’s People’s Committee’s chairman Nguyen Tran Lanh said that in the long term, the district would devise a master plan on surveying the town’s environmental pollution. In case the pollution levels exceeded permissible limitations, the district would ask the municipal authorities to remove pollution-hit households to other areas.

By Thanh Tung

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