Concerns over chemical plant near Haï Long Bay
Officials say leakages at the factory could damage the environment and hurt tourism in the province
QUANÛ G NINH A chemical factory project, originally set to be opened not far from the World Heritage of Haï Long Bay, is sparking public concerns in the northeastern province.
The factory, which specialises in cleaning agents is planned to produce an annual output of 20,000 tonnes of abrasive lye (sodium hydroxide) in addition to several other agents such as bleach (sodium hypochlorite), and industrial wastewater treatment agent Polyaluminum Chloride (PAC), is based at the Vieät Höng Industrial Park. The position of the 300ha industrial park is already a controversial issue as it lies near the head of Cöûa Luïc River, which runs directly into the waters of Haï Long Bay.
Phaïm Ñình Huyønh, deputy head of the bay management board, said caution must be exercised.
Should the factory run into leakage issues, the Haï Long Bay area will be directly effected, which aside from environmental damage, will affect the tourism and service sectors in the province, he said.
Huyønh cited the case of Ninh Bình Provinces authorities relocating a cement manufacturer out of the Tranø g An heritage landscape complex as a good lesson for any local government to follow for better protection of the environment and sustainable development.
In late 2006, Quaûng Ninh Provinces economic zone management board and the Taân Tieán Production and Trade JSC, headquartered in Haø Noäi, invested in a lye factory.
Previously, Taân Tieán received certification from the local authorities to produce alum as its main product (4,800 tonnes a year), with lye on the side (nearly 1,000 tonnes a year). The company has since met the requirements of environmental protection, land planning and workshop construction, and put the project into operation in 2013, authorities said.
Two years later, the company requested to expand its production and wanted to build another factory dedicated to producing 20,000 tonnes of lye per year in another land slot within the Vieät Höng IP.
Based on opinions from the local authorities and the industry and trade ministry, the expansion was accepted and the new cleaning agent factory was included by the Vietnamese Government into its national chemical development plan towards 2020.
In May 2016, the Quaûng Ninh EZ management board granted a new certificate for Taân Tieán JSC to begin the construction of the new factory.
Then in March 2017, the environmental ministry approved the projects environmental impact assessment, which already included its recommendations in case of chlorine leakage incidents.
Last month, Quanû g Ninh held a meeting with all stakeholders the investor, environment ministry, industry and trade ministry, as well as scientists to review whether the investors proposals conflicted with the socio-economic development of the local community.
At present, Hoaøng Trung Kieân, deputy head of the Quanû g Ninh EZ management board, said the new project has been suspended and the board is still considering the case and will deliver a final answer to the investor by the end of this month.
Industrial projects can only be started when their environmental impact assessment documents, including requirements to ensure the quality of discharged water, are approved by authorities, Traàn Ñoâng A, a retired senior expert on planning and environment residing in Haï Long City, said.
That is on paper. Once the project is up and running however, investors might actually cut out the whole waste treatment system or operate the system sporadically to save budget, putting the environment at severe risk, he added.
In case of incidents, Haï Long Bay would be poisoned and its ecology devastated, the senior expert said, urging the provincial authorities to make an informed and prudent judgement. VNS
An aerial view of Haï Long Bay, the UNESCO World Heritage site in the northeastern province of Quaûng Ninh. VNA/VNS Photo Trung Nguyeân