Dirty secrets spark alarms

December 13, 2010 | 14:18
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Recent discoveries of foreign firms’ environmental violations continue setting alarm bells ringing in the corridors of Vietnam’s law-makers.
The green face of the nation has been soiled

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong said Vietnam would continue paying an expensive price for its environmental pollution in the future, due to localities’ indolent foreign investment attraction.

“It is high time such pollution was stopped and related legal regulations were reviewed,” he said.

Last week, Taiwanese-backed Magnicon and South Korean-backed Sae Hwa Vina, both in  textile and dying sectors, were fined VND72.5 million ($3,625) and VND200 million ($10,000) respectively by Ho Chi Minh City authorities, for their direct discharging toxic waste water into the city’s environment.

Southern Binh Duong province-based Taiwanese-backed Kin Sing, producing export-oriented votive paper products, was recently found to be discharging untreated waste water into the environment.

Taiwanese-backed Fotai Vietnam, monthly producing 2,000 tonnes of plastic wrappings, dumped 60 cubic metres of toxic water per day without any waste treatment system.

The above two cases are now under investigations, according to the provincial environmental police.

Ho Chi Minh City-based South Korean-backed Kukjin, producing webbing made of general threads, was reported to be damaging the environment over the past decade. Though locals living by the company in Cu Chi district and local authorities pressurised the company to stop its pollution by June, 2010 the company’s violations remained unsolved.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment said it would combine with the city’s environmental police to crack down on the company’s violations. In May, 2009, the company was fined VND11 million ($550) for such a violation.

Nguyen The Chinh, vice head of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Environment Institute, told VIR that the number of foreign polluters would continue augmenting.

“It is simple that localities’ management over enterprises’ environmental protection was still problematic. Localities must show a serious attitude towards environmental protection. Vietnam’s environment is being seriously destroyed,” Chinh said.

Dang Van Loi, from the Vietnam Environmental Administration, said many foreign firms had been destroying Vietnam’s environment.

“No firm [representative] has been imprisoned. It is because specific punishments for specific polluters lack teeth.,” Loi said.

Recently, Taiwanese-backed Tung Kuang was reported to be prosecuted for damaging the environment in northern Hai Duong province, but no further action has been reported.

Since 2008, many other foreign polluters have also been caught killing the environment. These include Taiwanese-backed Vedan, South Korean monosodium glutamate (MSG) maker Miwon Vietnam which discharged toxic water into the Red River (October, 2008) and Japan’s Da Lat-Japan Food (January, 2010).

Recently, Thai-backed MK Sugar International in central Binh Thuan province’s Ham Thuan Bac district was fined VND55 million ($2,750) for damaging the environment and mismanagement over its discharged air and waste water.

Southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province-based British-backed Meisheng Textiles Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City-based Vietstar, a subsidiary of US-based Lemma International and owner of Vietstar solid waste treatment factory, were fined VND335 million and VND230 million ($16,750-$11,500), respectively, for directly discharging toxic waste water into the environment.

In late May, 2010, three Taiwanese-backed companies include Taung Liang, Jorn Technology  and Cosmos Knitting International in Binh Duong’s Viet Huong Industrial Park were found damaging the environment.

By Nguyen Thanh


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