|A worker from Biên Hòa-Phan Rang Sugar Company cleans dust at a house near the factory. — VNA/VNS Photo Công Thử|
NINH THUẬN — Residents of Đô Vinh Ward in the south-central province of Ninh Thuận have been living among clouds of dust released from a nearby sugar factory.
Tonnes of burned sugarcane pulp from Biên Hòa-Phan Rang Sugar Factory have not been transported for treatment and discharged without cover to the residential area.
Although residents close the doors all day long, they can’t prevent the ash from entering into their houses.
Nguyễn Thị Cát, a local resident, said: “We have to clean up the dust all the time. Just by slightly touching floors or furniture, our hands get dusty from the factory ashes.”
Many families have to use towels to fill all the window and door cracks in an attempt to keep their homes dust-free. Some installed dust nets but it still doesn't keep their homes clean.
Ash has also affected public health, especially among the elderly and children. Some people have red eyes, itchy skin, rhinitis or suffer from watery eyes and coughing.
Sixty households in residential area No 8 of Đô Vinh Ward are directly affected, Vietnam News Agency reported.
Bùi Công Tiến, head of the residential area’s management board, said locals have reported dust pollution and asked for solutions from local authorities and the factory many times.
The pollution has become severe in the past month, he said.
Nguyễn Đình Nhàn, vice chairman of Đô Vinh People’s Committee, said the ward’s authorities have proposed the provincial People’s Committee make a plan to relocate the factory far from the residential area.
Lê Khắc Huy Anh, deputy director of Ninh Thuận Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said local authorities have inspected the factory and monitored dust and waste intensity levels.
The Biên Hòa-Phan Rang Sugar JS Company has admitted violations and shipped the sludge, ash and bagasse to the microorganic fertiliser factory.
They have also sprayed water, covered the ash storage area and installed automatic sprinkler system in the factory to reduce dust.
Dozens of factory workers have been mobilised to clean up roads, houses and gardens affected.
The company committed to finishing the clean-up by March.
Trần Đình Phúc¸ director of Biên Hòa-Phan Rang Sugar JS Company, said factory workers visit local houses to clean up dust three to four days a week.
Environmental monitoring made by the local Department of Natural Resources and Environment showed the pollution level of the factory is within the limits permitted by the national technical regulation.
However, in order not to cause environmental pollution, the provincial Department of Environmental Protection asked the factory to maintain clean-up work.
The company will face penalties if they continue to release dust and do not follow environmental protection regulations.
Local authorities also show determination to impose punishments on the factory for any violations.
By the end of the production season in 2022-23 (expected at the end of March 2023), the Department of Natural Resources and Environment proposed Biên Hòa - Phan Rang Sugar Company review production lines for upgrading in order to meet environmental standards. — VNS