|Untreated waste discharged from the commune's fisheries processing zone is the main cause of the pollution that has plagued residents for many years. — Photo laodong
BA RIA-VUNG TAU (VNS) — A lack of comprehensive measures to solve environmental pollution has made Tan Hai Commune in the southern coastal Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province a pollution hot spot.
Untreated waste discharged from the commune's fisheries processing zone is the main cause of the pollution that has plagued residents for many years.
Established in 1998, the zone has 22 fisheries processing plants specialising in the production of dried fish, fish powder and fish sauce.
Annual inspection by local natural resources and environment inspectors revealed that the plants were still illegally discharging untreated waste into the environment, particularly at night or on weekends.
Many plants have built waste treatment facilities that are actually used to cover up their environmental violations.
The inspections further revealed that seven plants have been releasing untreated waste into Rang River while 14 others have been discharging waste into Rach Van River, polluting the environment and affecting the living conditions of aquatic animals and plants, as well as residents' aquatic farming.
Nguyen Thi Thom, a resident, told Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper that she could not accept the foul odour from plants producing dried fish all day. Residents had sent numerous complaints to authorities about the situation but no changes have taken place, she noted.
Truong Ung Hung, also a resident and a fishermen, said the pollution had killed a large number of fish in the rivers and rendered fishermen like himself unemployed.
Bui Van Thon, owner of a shrimp breeding farm, revealed that the pollution had likewise killed much of his shrimp.
Le Van Sam, director of the provincial natural resources and environment department, said his office had formulated a master plan to deal with pollution in the area, focusing on increasing inspections, supervising the plants' waste treatment activities and compelling them to abide by environmental pollution regulations.
The plan requires plants that discharge at least 100 cu.m of waste water per day to install automatic observation equipment that will check waste water quality after treatment. Operations of violators will be suspended.
Nguyen Van Phuoc, head of the Institute for Environment and Resources in HCM City, said a long-term solution required the province to speed up investment in the construction of large-scale fisheries processing zones with adequate waste collection and treatment facilities to protect the environment.
All processing plants in Tan Hai Commune could then be relocated to this new zone to create conditions for them to operate while helping supervise their waste treatment activities, he added.
However, Tran Van Mot, deputy head of the economy and budget department of the provincial people's council, explained that the master plan lacked measures to support businesses in protecting the environment.
He noted that the investment required for building waste treatment plants could range from VND3 billion to VND6 billion (US$142,000 to $285,000). — VNS