Repeat polluters to feel the heat to get a free ride

October 24, 2010 | 20:23
The fate of hundreds of projects in Haiphong city’s Thuy Nguyen district may be up in the air if they fail to improve their backward and pollution-causing technology.
The government has signalled its determination to name, shame and fine polluters

The district’s vice chairwoman Tran Thi Nga told VIR that the district was overwhelmed by waste water and dust pollution.

“The district is home to about 1,150 operational factories, of which hundreds of factories are damaging the environment. We have asked the provincial people’s committee for urgent solutions to the issue.”

“If factories fail to improve their old equipment, they will be, sooner or later, be forced to shut down,” Nga said.

Le Minh Hien, chairman of the district’s Minh Duc town - most seriously hit by pollution, said that the town’s 3,000 households were hit by untreated waste water and dust every hour.

He ascribed the situation to the town home to many big industrial factories causing pollution, such as Chinfon Cement Cooperation - a joint venture between Taiwanese-backed Chinfon Vietnam Holding Company Ltd., Haiphong People’s Committee and Vietnam Cement Industry Corporation, Pha Rung shipbuilding factory, Haiphong thermo-electricity plant and Hang Kenh calcium carbide factory.

He said the town faced either continuing to accept pollution or removing the inhabitants. “But, removal of inhabitants seems to be an impossible task. I agree with Nga’s view that if enterprises refuse to improve their equipment, we will work with the provincial authorities to force such enterprises to shut down,” Hien said.

Nga and Hien also attributed to the situation to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DoNRE), which was “problematic” about examining enterprises’ environmental protection reports and inspecting their environmental protection tasks.

“For example, the Hang Kenh calcium carbide factory should have been forced to close long time ago, because its equipment was made several decades ago and it is one of the major causes of pollution here. However, I don’t understand why the DoNRE approved such equipment,” Hien said.

“The same is true to many other projects. Even the provincial Department of Science and Technology disagreed with the DoNRE’s in approving such projects’ environmental protection reports,” he said.

Nga said that the DoNRE was not serious in asking enterprises to abide by environmental protection regulations. Chinfon’s $463.7 million cement manufacturing factory, which manufactures 9,200 tonnes of clinker per day and 3.9 million tonnes of cement per year, recently accidentally discharged a large volume of cement dust into the environment of 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 case irritated the public, who blocked factory traffic between October 1-2, 2010 and asked the authorities for help.

The company last week improved its equipment which caused the pollution and completed its financial support of VND500,000 ($26.3) per household hit by the company’s pollution.

“But, the company is also required to hold a conference at which it will have to table a specific technology renovation programme to local authorities. If not, it will suffer from bigger punishments,” Nga said.

By Tong Dat

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