CAN THO — Untreated wastewater from industrial parks (IPs) in Can Tho City has severely polluted rivers and canals, especially the Hau River, but no effective solution has been applied so far.
Local reports say there is no way of saying when the IPs will finish building the mandated consolidated wastewater treatment systems, leaving residents to suffer the pollution without respite.
Can Tho has eight IPs with a total area of 2,364ha located along the Hau River, a Mekong tributary.
Tra Noc 1, Tra Noc 2 and Thot Not IPs have been operating for many years and most of their land has been rented out to enterprises. The first two have 34 enterprises that release wastewater and the third has six such establishments, according to the Can Tho Industrial Parks and Export Processing Zones Authority.
Under regulations, these enterprises should have their own wastewater treatment systems that will release the treated water to the IP's consolidated wastewater system for further treatment before it is released into the environment.
Of 26 enterprises inspected last year, 11 had their treated wastewater meeting the B level of the Vietnamese industrial wastewater discharge standard, which is classified into three levels. A is the highest and C, the lowest.
The other 15 enterprises had their wastewater containing pollutants far exceeding standards and three of them were seriously polluting the environment.
Residents along Sang Trang Canal, which flows into Hau River in O Mon District's Phuoc Thoi Commune, have been suffering the pollution caused by effluents being released directly into the canal by Tra Noc 2 IP.
Le Ba Thanh, who lives along the canal, said every day wastewater from the IP was released into the canal, making its waters turn black and smelly.
Water in the canal is so polluted that it cannot be used for daily purposes at home or to irrigate crops and orchards, Thanh told the Nhan Dan (the People) newspaper.
"We have reported this situation to the city authorities for nearly 10 years, but the situation has not been solved," he said.
The quality of surface water in Hau River, meanwhile, is polluted with organic substances which exceed the permitted level and the pollution level has continued to increase, according to the Can Tho Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
In fact, all the 12 main canals in Can Tho City are polluted with organic substances and coliform bacteria that exceed permitted by several dozen times.
In 2008, the Can Tho City People's Committee decided to build consolidated wastewater treatment systems with a daily capacity of 12,000cu.m each at the Tra Noc 1 and Tra Noc 2 IPs and another one with a capacity of 5,000cu.m at the Thot Not IP.
However, in the three years since the decision was made, no system has been built because the firms are baulking over the investment needed.
Vo Thanh Hung, head of the Can Tho Industrial Parks and Export Processing Zones Authority, said his agency has tried to expedite the process of building the consolidated wastewater treatment systems, including choosing the right technology and mobilising capital.
The consolidated wastewater treatment systems would cost a total of about VND300 billion (US$14 million), Hung said.
To prevent further pollution, the Can Tho Industrial Parks and Export Processing Zones Authority was cooperating with competent agencies to strengthen inspections of wastewater treatment at enterprises in IPs, he said.
Under regulations issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, IPs that do not have a consolidated wastewater treatment system by the end of 2010 have to close down.
Can Tho City has asked for permission from the Government to grant an extension until the end of 2012. — VNS