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Food processing pollutes villages

Update: September, 07/2015 - 08:34
Residents of Hoai Duc district's Duong Lieu Village complain they have had to live for years with pollution caused by thousands of cubic metres of untreated waste water discharged from the nearby food processing workshops. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Residents of Hoai Duc district's Duong Lieu Village complain they have had to live for years with pollution caused by thousands of cubic metres of untreated waste water discharged from the nearby food processing workshops.

"Pollution has affected the ground water, leading to residents' drilled wells smelling horribly," said Nguyen Thi Lai, a local resident.

She said her family and others residents couldn't use water from drilled wells for drinking and just use the water for bathing and farming.

About 2,800 out of the village's 3,143 households are engaged in starch processing, vermicelli and confectionery production.

It is estimated that 7 tonnes of starch and waste water are discharged into the drainage system during the processing of 10 tonnes of edible canna. Craft villages like Duong Lieu have helped create jobs and increase income for residents of Ha Noi but also caused serious pollution, Tin Tuc (News) reported.

According to the Ha Noi Department of Industry and Trade, the city currently has 1,350 craft villages, accounting for 40 per cent of the country's total craft villages. They employ nearly 750,000 workers and contributed an estimated production value of nearly VND14 trillion (US$623 million).

However polluted craft villages are a major issue, affecting the environment and local population as most craft villages do not have treatment systems for waste water or solid waste.

A report by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment last April showed the percentage of villagers who contracted skin and respiratory diseases and eyesores in craft villages was much higher than elsewhere.

Agencies found that water, air and soil in these areas was seriously polluted. Particularly, some food processing villages have exceeded the permited waste water pollution level by 9,200 times.

In Tan Trieu Commune's Trieu Khuc Village in Thanh Tri District, nearly 130 workshops involved in recycling are polluting the environment by their activities.

After collection, waste was classified, cut into small pieces, washed and packed into a bag before being transported to workshops.

Waste water was then discharged into the drainage system and flowed into To Lich River. The noise and smell from plastic recycling causes headaches for local residents and also pollutes the environment.

A report on the environment of Trieu Khuc Village in 2014 showed that waste water from domestic and production units had not been treated correctly. Every day the village discharged about 17 tonnes of solid waste.

Capital shortage

Since 2012, Ha Noi People's Committee has asked the natural resources and environment department to survey 17 craft villages with serious environmental pollution.

Of these, six craft villages were chosen for applying treatment technology like the waste water treatment project in Tan Hoa Village in Quoc Oai District and wood dust treatment in Van Ha Wood-working Village in Dong Anh District and a waste water bio-treatment project in Thanh Oai District's Bich Hoa Village.

Despite these efforts the situation had not been improved due to a lack of funding, said Vu Hong Khanh, deputy chairman of Ha Noi People's Committee.

The allocation from the city's budget was limited while it was difficult to mobilise capital from the private sector, he said.

"The city's authorities have invited businesses to invest in adressing pollution in craft village but they aren't interested," he said.

He attributed it to the fact that these projects require big investment but take a long time to pay off.

Authorities from Tan Trieu Commune have planned to move households who are involved in plastic recycling nearer to industrial areas to facilitate the collection and treatment of waste but this has been ineffective.

Nguyen Huu Tam, who is in charge of environmental issues in the commune, said the use of industrial areas was limited because waste water treatment has not been put into operation and the collection of waste has been done irregular.

"The majority of households produce on a small scale and don't have enough money to buy land in the industrial areas," he said.

Duong Lieu Village's People's Committee has issued environmental protection regulations since 2003. It also has plans for the formation of industrial area but the project has not yet materilalised after 12 years. — VNS

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