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Toxic waste continues to flood into Viet Nam

Update: September, 03/2013 - 09:41
Large quantities of toxic waste are illegally imported into the country every year, and authorities admit they have been unable to check this.—Photo dddn

HCM CITY (VNS)— Large quantities of toxic waste are illegally imported into the country every year, and authorities admit they have been unable to check this.

Toxic waste is imported along with scrap for use as raw materials for production and for re-export.

In recent years official agencies have found more than 200 instances of import of toxic and industrial wastes, according to the Environmental Crime Prevention and Fighting Police Department.

They have fined violators and ordered them to re-export or destroy 325 tonnes of wastes, 3,150 tonnes of plastic scrap, 10,000 tones of steel scrap, and 6,200 tonnes of used lead-acid batteries.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen said import of waste has become a big problem and the existing monitoring and penalty regime has not been able to curb this.

The volume of illegally imported waste that is discovered and the number of cases are insignificant compared to what is going on practically, he admitted.

This makes it harder to treat solid wastes, he said.

Nguyen Tien Luc, deputy head of the Environmental Crime Prevention and Fighting Police Department, said the Government has decided to temporarily disallow imports of certain kinds of goods for re-export.

But lax oversight means many transport companies continue to carry goods such as used household equipment, used rubber tyres, and frozen chicken legs and wings — all temporarily banned or restricted — he said.

Experts said regulations do not clearly distinguish between ‘scrap' used as raw materials in manufacturing and waste.

Many companies take advantage of this to import large quantities of waste, they said.

The environmental protection law, which is now being revised, should clearly define scrap and waste to prevent companies from importing waste, they said.

To prevent import of toxic waste into the country through temporary import for re-export, authorities should not only spell out what items are prohibited but also make penalties for violations harsher, they added. — VNS

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