Clusters failing to meet waste rules

October 26, 2023 | 15:06
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The number of industrial zones and clusters without centralised wastewater treatment facilities or even environmental permits is increasing, causing huge consequences for the environment.

Although Man Xa Industrial Cluster (IC) in the northern province of Bac Ninh has been established for seven years and half of all land lots have been handed over for business, it still has no environmental licence, no water treatment station, and no fire prevention licence.

The wastewater treatment plant has yet to be built in the IC. Therefore, instead of complying with the law, the facilities continue to operate and pollute the environment.

“While the craft villages are developing, there is no place for treating waste, so we often dump it over there. We know that it will seriously affect the environment and our health, but we have no other choice because there is no disposal site,” said Nguyen Thanh Mai in Man Xa IC.

Toxic waste dumps are stacked high along the roadside in the cluster. With the serious pollution, trees have gone grey with smoke and dust, and some of them have died.

Man Xa IC was established in 2016 across almost 30 hectares to welcome small business households from craft villages to concentrated production zones, to minimise environmental pollution in Van Mon commune of Yen Phong district.

Clusters failing to meet waste rules
Clusters failing to meet waste rules, illustration photo

However, the cluster has encountered many inadequacies such as technical infrastructure construction not being completed for a long time, at about 80 per cent, and the construction of fire prevention and fighting systems and wastewater treatment systems not being completed.

Bui Duc Thuyen, Vice Chairman of Van Mon People’s Committee, said that moving aluminium casting households in residential areas to the IC gradually aimed to stop the dumping of aluminium slag into the environment.

“However, the construction of the commune’s hard waste and household waste treatment plant is behind schedule, seriously affecting the production and business of households in the cluster, especially causing environmental pollution,” he said. “People in Van Mon commune and surrounding areas have been living with a seriously polluted environment from waste and dust for many years. Now, even though there is an IC, the pollution still continues.”

In the central province of Quang Nam, meanwhile, dozens of ICs have been reported for the lack of a water treatment plant. The province has 51 clusters in operation, but only four have centralised wastewater treatment systems. Most of them are relatively small scale.

Over the past two years, Duy Xuyen People’s Committee has sanctioned administrative violations and forced the shutdown of three clusters causing environmental pollution.

During the inspection in the first half of 2023, the district continued to detect a number of businesses in Tay An Industrial Zone (IZ) discharging untreated wastewater into the sewer system in the Cay Thi Bridge area, polluting the air and water environment.

A leader of Quang Nam Department of Natural Resources and Environment said, “The lack of a wastewater treatment system in these ICs not only limits attracting businesses and investors but also damages the general environment in the province, many businesses have violated environmental issues seriously.”

Some wastewater treatment plants have been built, but they operate at less than half of the capacity, such as at An Luu IC in Dien Ban district.

“In addition to relocating production facilities that are causing environmental pollution into concentrated ICs, Quang Nam also tightens management and sanctions violators,” said Ho Quang Buu, Deputy Chairman of Quang Nam People’s Committee.

In the northern province of Phu Tho, only 10 of 25 ICs have completed technical infrastructure items for environmental protection like wastewater treatment. The remaining clusters have yet to build technical infrastructure for environmental protection, and wastewater treatment or have yet to build automatic control and measurement systems at the discharge points of factories.

Without an environmental impact assessment report, and without a centralised wastewater collection and treatment system in Hoang Long IZ, Thanh Hoa-Construction Corporation has been fined over $90,000 for not building an environmental impact assessment report for the area to submit to the competent authority, and for not having a centralised wastewater collection and treatment system.

The company will have to suspend construction of capacity expansion unless it receives a decision approving the results of the appraisal of the environmental impact assessment report in the next nine months.

In the central province of Quang Nam, since 2022, about 80 cases have been fined more than $84,000 for their environmental violations like discharging exhaust gases and waste beyond technical regulations into the environment; not collecting hazardous waste; and dumping concentrated solid waste against the regulations on environmental protection.

Le Minh Truong, a lawyer at Minh Khue Law Firm, said that wastewater collection and treatment was a mandatory requirement for all new urban areas and residential areas; production, business and service facilities; and ICs.

“The wastewater treatment system must meet several requirements in terms of technology. The capacity of the system must be consistent with the maximum amount of wastewater generated; treatment must meet environmental protection requirements; and treatment works must be operated according to technical procedures,” Truong said.

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