QUẢNG NINH — Coal sludge dumps of mining companies and other illegal coal washing activities in Cẩm Phả City, northern Quảng Ninh Province, have turned clear areas of Bái Tử Long Bay into dark murky water, Lao động (Labour) newspaper reported.
Waste water from coal sludge dumps flows directly into the bay. Toxic sludge spills from thermal power plants, concrete factories and coal mines located on high hills flow to bay with heavy rain.
Areas in Quang Hanh Ward and Cam Thinh Ward are hot spots of illegal coal sludge dumps.
The dump in Cẩm Thịnh Ward is under the management of Cửa Ông Coal Company, located right next to Bái Tử Long Bay.
By the end of last year, there were nearly 20 illegal coal dumps and coal washing sites in Cẩm Thịnh Ward.
According to Cẩm Phả City’s People’s Committee, Cửa Ông Coal Company of the Việt Nam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) has been authorised to dump coal mixed with rocks and soil around Bái Tử Long Bay.
The coal mixed with rocks and soil discharged from coal mines is washed for coal residue which will be sold locally or transported overseas.
About 30 households have started illegal coal washing on the site and sell coal residue to coal smuggling rings.
Water samples tested by the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment at the end of last year showed the level of solid waste in the area was three times higher than the permitted level.
After the pollution was reported in the media, illegal coal-related activities at the Cẩm Thanh dump have stopped.
Illegal coal sludge dumps and ports have been removed, Nguyễn Hồng Dương, chairman of Cẩm Phả City’s People’s Committee told the newspaper.
However, these activities are not expected to stop for long, because when officials leave the sites everything starts again.
Bái Tử Long Bay is located in the east of Hạ Long Bay, the World Heritage Site, and is considered a key destination for local tourism development.
In the plan of transitioning to a green economy, Quảng Ninh Province’s authorities aim to stop coal sludge dumps located by Bái Tử Long Bay, Cao Tường Huy, vice chairman of Quảng Ninh Province’s People’s Committee told the newspaper.
It is a more urgent task when the Bái Tử Long area will be located on a sea route connecting Hạ Long Bay and Cảm Phả City. Once the sea route is open, there will be more opportunities for local tourism development.
The Cửa Ông Company has to stop dumping waste in Bái Tử Long Bay by the end of this year and move the waste to another area far from the coast. The company representative said rail routes are being installed to transport coal sludge far from the coast, Huy said.
According to Nguyễn Hồng Dương, chairman of Cẩm Phả City’s People’s Committee, the area for coal sludge dumps and ports of Vinacomin and Đông Bắc Corporation under the Ministry of Defence in the area will be narrowed. — VNS