Con­cerns over chem­i­cal plant near Haï Long Bay

Of­fi­cials say leak­ages at the fac­tory could dam­age the en­vi­ron­ment and hurt tourism in the prov­ince

Viet Nam News - - ENVIRONMENT -

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 Prov­ince’s 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 Prov­ince’s 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 project’s 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 in­vestor’s 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

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