Tech advances discussed for city waste treatment complex

August 18, 2019 | 10:00
Residents in close proximity to waste treatment facilities in Ho Chi Minh City have been allowed unprecedented access to the site in order to have their say on unpleasant odours that have been emanating from the complex for well over a year.
tech advances discussed for city waste treatment complex
VWS has been listening to local residents through feedback meetings and site inspections

Ho Chi Minh City Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DoNRE), in collaboration with the city’s Fatherland Front Committee and the districts of Nha Be, Binh Chanh, and District 7 recently organised an inspection for local residents to identify the offending smell at Da Phuoc integrated waste management facility.

Companies operating at the site include household waste processors Vietnam Waste Solutions (VWS), Saigon Xanh Biotechnology Co., Ltd. that processes waste sludge from Binh Hung wastewater treatment station and dredging sewage from the canal and river, and Hoa Binh Urban Environment Services JSC that treats sludge.

VWS is believed to be the main culprit for emitting the unwanted odour in District 7 and Phu My Hung Urban Area. The inspection team allowed residents to explore the waste treatment activities at the complex for three hours. Most of the team recognised a faint odour of trash but not as heavy as was expected.

Do Van Ho, a resident of Binh Chanh district, said that while many people blame the odour on the landfill, he sees it as in a good condition. Meanwhile, Ho’s neighbour Huynh Van Dong said that the landfill often emits a foul odour rather than the sour smell of rubbish, which he believes is feces.

Elsewhere, Nha Be district resident Nguyen Van Tuong said that it is not fair to blame all responsibility on the Da Phuoc facility, noting that he did not smell any strong odour at the complex itself. On top of that, the waste treatment system is so modern that the treated wastewater can be used for raising fish.

Nguyen Thanh My, a resident of Binh Chanh, learned on her trip to the waste complex that VWS has treated waste efficiently. The problem lies in the operation of other waste treatment companies, My believed. She urged these companies to take action to reduce air pollution for the surrounding areas.

While most residents surrounding the complex have made positive statements about the operation of VWS, a number of the residents in District 7 still accused the company of emitting the odours. Tran Thanh Tam, manager of Era Town condominium, suggested that VWS should take measures to reduce the unpleasantness and purify the air.

To Hong Trang, a local resident in District 7, complained that with millions of tonnes of garbage, the complex has not only given off a heavy smell, but also deteriorated the environment. Thus, the short field trip in her eyes cannot reflect the entire problem of strong scent at the complex.

“The investor should be responsible in choosing suitable technology before making investment in the city,” Trang said. “The company mainly depends on burying waste rather than applying modern waste treatment technology. They should change this technology in order to solve the problem of air pollution.”

In response to the inspection team, Kevin Moore, managing director of VWS, said their green tree belt project is yet to be fully completed, so any strong wind will spread the smell when the complex is open to receive garbage. “VWS has made efforts to reduce the area and opening time of the facility. We have installed a deodorising system with high capacity to control the odour more effectively. In addition, the city inspects odour control activities five times per day – three times in the daytime and two times at night,” Moore said.

According to Moore, VWS also uses new technology to bury waste which is in line with local regulations as well as the standard of the United States. Leachate is treated with microbiological and nanofiltration technology, which results in drinkable water. Other waste treatment companies often do not have the money to apply this expensive technology.

Indeed, the inspection team began to recognise that the strong odour mainly seems to come from the sludge treatment area controlled by Saigon Xanh Biotechnology and the septic tank of Hoa Binh Urban Environment Services.

Many residents in Nha Be and Binh Chanh districts figured out the source of smell coming from the two companies after taking the field trip to the complex.

tech advances discussed for city waste treatment complex
The waste sludge treatment facility at Saigon Xanh Biotechnology Co., Ltd. emits a bad smell

Nguyen Hong Thu, a resident of District 7, also identified the smell in her neighbourhood starting from the sludge treatment area of Saigon Xanh Biotechnology. Hoang Giang Sinh, the company’s deputy director attributed the origin of the odour to the transfer and receipt of sludge. However, the District 7 resident Trang refuted the claim. She said, “The odour is emitting from the sludge treatment area. When we visited the factory, we couldn’t stand the smell from that area.”

Le Trung Tuan Anh, head of the Department for Waste Management under the DoNRE, urged VWS to change the waste treatment technology as requested by Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. The company should also publish a plan and a specific roadmap for local residents.

“With waste treatment technology still lagging behind, the city has ordered relevant departments and agencies to upgrade technology,” Anh said. “The department is also collecting opinions on the announcement of environmental monitoring results at the Da Phuoc complex. Furthermore, the city will step up the relocation of people living in the planned area of the green tree belt project.”

The DoNRE and local ­authorities are continuing to update information about the odour level, organising more field trips for local residents as well as discussions with companies to address the problem. Anh also suggested that Saigon Xanh Biotechnology look for feedback from residents and tackle the strong odour at its factory.

At the same time, Saigon Xanh Biotechnology and Hoa Binh Urban Environment Services should make an evaluation and suggest proper technology in line with the city’s development strategy.

VWS looking to upgrade technology

tech advances discussed for city waste treatment complex
David Duong President cum CEO Vietnam Waste Solutions

We completely agree with the residents’ opinions to change the waste treatment technology to suit the city’s waste composition. After 10 years of waste treatment in Vietnam, we have learned that garbage in the city mainly contains organic waste, which is not classified at its source.

Therefore, it needs modern technology to process the city’s mixed garbage as well as ­recycling waste into ­useful products, thereby contributing to protecting the environment. Our expert team has researched technologies in both Europe and the United States to find the best technology for our factories in Vietnam. We have proposed that the city upgrades to the latest technology. Once approved, the ­factory will be put into ­operation in one year.

By Song Nguyen

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