Vietnam Implements Regulations for Environmental Sustainability

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By Chua Siew Joo

Oct. 8 – All industrial zones in Dong Nai province will be required to install a central wastewater treatment plant by the end of 2008 or face suspension, according to Phan Van Het, deputy director of Resources and Environment Department.

Last September, a Taiwanese firm, Vedan Vietnam, was caught by environment inspectors from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for dumping untreated waste water into the Thi Vai River for more than a decade.

According to the ministry, the company had been polluting the river since 1994, and had pipes hidden below the water surface to escape detection. The company was fined VND267.5 million for the damage caused to the environment and VND127 billion worth of wastewater fees that it evaded with its pumping system, the Thanh Nien News reported.

The Ho Chi Minh City administration came under fire for the industrial pollution that contaminates the city’s air and waterways. According to Thanh Nien News, the deputies of the People’s Council rallied for harsher penalties against companies who flout environmental regulations as current fines are inadequate as a deterrent.

The HCMC Department of Natural resources and Environment was slammed for its weak protection efforts and admitted that it is tough to penalize polluters under the current regulations.

A recent ministry report also revealed that rapid industrialization over the past decade has caused serious pollution of a 10 kilometer stretch of Thi Vai River, causing almost irreversible damage to the river’s ecosystem.

In the wake of the Vedan incident, Dong Nai province, Vietnam’s foreign direct investment pacesetter, plans to stop licensing new projects in industrial parks where waste treatment facilities are absent, according to Vietnam Investment Review.

The province will also block new projects in 11 industrial parks without wastewater treatment facilities and 5 other industrial parks where treatments facilities are overloaded.

HCMC Deputy Mayor also indicated that the mass inspection of industrial parks and export processing zones will continue until end March 2009. Companies with wastewater systems that fall short of required standards may have their licenses revoked.

The Chairperson of HCMC People’s Council Pham Phuong Thao accrued the pollution of the Thi Vai River and canals like Bao Bo and Thay Cai- An Ha to a lack of coordination among concerned local authorities.

The director of Long An Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Nguyen Van Thiep, urged the ministry to develop plans to coordinate local environment protection activities and install monitoring stations along rivers to detect polluters.

Recognizing the need for a sustainable economic growth, at this moment, many provinces like Ba Ria- Vung Tau will only welcome environmental friendly investors.

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