Viet Nam News
HẬU GIANG – More than 600 illegal kilns producing coal in southern Hậu Giang Province’s Phú Tân Commune have been discharging smoke to the environment, affecting the health of local residents and seriously reducing the productivity of their fruit trees.
Nguyễn Hữu Nghị, a Phú Tân Commune’s Phú Tân Hamlet resident, said that the coal-fired kilns have boomed in the commune over the past several years.
Before 2010, there were only tens of the kilns, locating along the two sides of Cái Côn River. Most of the kilns were hand-made and temporarily built without waste treatment systems.
However, the number of kilns has remarkably increased since the coal was exported abroad, he said, causing serious air pollution.
On average, each kiln burns wood for 20 days to get coal. The process discharges a large amount of black smoke and dust, and affected the development of fruit gardens – the main income of local residents.
Nghị said his garden was covered by a black dust and quickly wilting.
“If it manages to bear fruit, they have a dirty look. Traders always offer cheaper prices for such fruits,” he said.
Currently, there are about 620 coal kilns in the commune. Each has the height of between 4 and 5.5 metres and is temporarily built by mud and husk.
Hundreds of households in the commune have also raised worries about health risks. They complain about respiratory and skin diseases that they blame on the kilns.
Trần Hồng Đức, deputy head of Châu Thành District’s Office of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the unit has set up a team to evaluate the situation.
At least 290 hectares of fruit trees have been seriously affected by the smoke. Productivity has reduced by between 25 and 30 per cent, he said.
Nguyễn Tấn Trung, head of the unit said the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, has installed a model of treating smoke discharged as a pilot in Ngã Bảy Town.
The model will be expanded in the whole district if it works, he said.
The department also proposed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment a project to curb the pollution at Phú Tân Commune, but it has not received replies. – VNS