Inflammables, explosives endanger waste collectors

Update: November, 04/2016 - 11:33
Waste is illegally dumped on the Hữu Hòa Bridge in Hà Nội’s Thanh Trì District. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI - Inflammable and explosive materials found in households that earn their living through rubbish collection in Hà Nội’s Thanh Trì District is endangering the safety of residents, but many underestimate the potential risk, authority and local residents have said.

Speaking with reporters of Kinh Tế Đô Thị (Economiy and Urban) newspaper, Nguyễn Trọng Công, chairman of the Trung Văn District People’s Committee, said recycling waste into new products from plastic, such as rope, was the traditional local job.  

There were dozens of households collecting waste and about 30 others recycle rubbish to new products, he said.  

“This job helps them earn a living and is also one of the main causes of polution but local authorities cannot ban them,” Công said. 

In Tân Triều Commune of Triều Khúc Village in Hà Nội’s Thanh Trì District, many residents work as scrap collectors.  

Most families living there get the rubbish from collectors who find it in garbage dumps. They then sift through it, pile it up according to types of rubbish, cut it into small pieces, wash and pack it before transporting it to various workshops for sale. It’s a lucrative business for many of these families but the village is surrounded by waste and the environment is polluted by smells and bad air.

Many residents of Nam Từ Liêm District’s Trung Văn Ward also earn a living from waste collection. In the afternoons, trucks filled with rubbish queue up at the entrance to the village, where the waste is piled in heaps.

Residents collect waste from Hà Nội and neighbouring localities to recycle it into new products, such as bags, ropes, water pipes and rain coats to be sold at traditional markets.

Every available spot, including homes, yards and even roads, is used to hold rubbish despite the dammage to the environment and their health, and the high risk of fire. Waste has also been discharged, along with water, into canals, which are now filled with waste and mud. Ponds in the village are covered by thick layers of mud created by plastic waste.

Other residents who do not earn money from waste have complained, but the collectors argue that they need to earn money. 

One such resident conceded that he and people here know the danger, but said he had to continue this work because they had no choice. Some seven months ago an explosion in Hà Đông District killed four people and injured 10 others. The blast occurred when a scrap collector took an object shaped like an oxygen cylinder and tried to cut it up to sell.

The police said metal pieces at the scene were identified as materials that could be used to make a bomb.

Workers are also not equipped with special clothing and most of the work is done with bare hands, including collecting, sorting and drying the waste.   -VNS