|One of Thiên Phước Waste Treatment Plant’s waste burial sites in southern Đồng Nai Province. — Photo baobariavungtau.com.vn|
ĐỒNG NAI — The only lake that provides water to the southernmost province of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu is at risk of getting polluted because of a waste treatment plant.
The 20ha Thiên Phước Waste Treatment Plant, based in southern Đồng Nai Province, was approved for operation in 2013 by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MONRE).
One of its solid waste burial sites is located upstream of Chà Răng Stream, which flows into Đá Đen Lake in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province. The 34 million cu.m lake is the only source of water for the province, with no alternative so far.
Worried that waste from the burial site may pollute the lake, authorities of the two provinces recently collaborated to inspect the Thiên Phước Waste Treatment Plant, the Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper reported.
The inspection results show that some leachate treatment facilities have not been completed and put into operation.
Some 120cu.m of wastewater is treated and recycled per day, but domestic solid waste is buried at a 2,000sq.m site since the plant does not have any incinerators, Nguyễn Ngọc Bé, deputy director of the Thiên Phước Trading & Production JSC, investor of the plant, said.
The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report of the plant, approved by MONRE, shows that all treated wastewater from the plant will flow into Cầu Mới Stream in Đồng Nai Province through Sóc River, which flows through both provinces.
However, authorities of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province pointed out that since Sóc River flows at a level 20m higher than the plant, wastewater from the plant will not flow into the river as expected.
It will instead flow into Chà Răng Stream, located 50m lower than the plant, and then into Sông Xoài Stream, eventually ending up in Đá Đen Lake in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province.
The Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu authorities are worried that during heavy rainfall, all wastewater and solid waste will flow into Chà Răng Stream and pollute the only source of fresh water for a million residents of the province.
A number of residents living near the plant told Tiền Phong that leachate has leaked from the plant into their paddy fields and killed crops.
The Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu authorities requested Đồng Nai Province to ask MONRE to review the plant’s EIA report, and only permit the company to burn the waste instead of burying it.
“The best way to prevent pollution of Đá Đen Lake is to relocate the plant,” Lê Quốc Tuấn, vice chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said, adding that the province will cover part of the relocation costs.
Võ Văn Chánh, vice chairman of Đồng Nai People’s Committee, however, said although it is in the province’s best interest to protect the environment, at present, it was impossible to relocate the plant.
“We will impose hefty fines if they violate environmental regulations,” he said. “But at the moment they have violated nothing – they would probably sue us if we make them move.”
“It would make us look like the bad guy and shoo investors away from our province,” he added. — VNS