Tag: Environmental Law

Pollution originates in legal loopholes

It is the unreasonable legal framework which has made the environment pollution in industrial zones (IZ) and export processing zones more serious.

20131231132900-envir303The barrels of toxic chemicals buried by Nicotex Thanh Thai under the earth.

People complain, competent agencies plug their ears

According to Dr. Vo Thanh Thu from the HCM City Economics University, who conducted a state’s research work on the development of industrial zones in Vietnam, 289 IZs have been licensed, but only 184 have become operational. The IZ investors have been trying to attract investment at any costs, while they do not pay appropriate attention to the environment protection.

It is estimated that the IZs put out 47 million cubic meters of waste water every year, including a high volume of untreated waste water. A report showed that 85 percent of the small-scaled industrial clusters and 75 percent of IZs still don’t have concentrated waste water treatment systems or discharge substandard waste water.

PanNature, or the People and Nature Reconciliation center, which conducted a survey in northern IZs, discovered the serious pollution caused by production factories.

In Tang Loong IZ in Lao Cai province, though the phosphate plant seriously polluted the nearby area, 69 households still have not been relocated. Since the day the factory became operational, local people have suffered the bone-and-joint diseases, while more and more buffalos and cows have died.

Meanwhile, in Phu Tho province, 30 hectares of cultivated land has been left idle because of the black water discharged from the Thuy Van IZ in Phu Tho province day and night.

Bui Manh Hung, a National Assembly’s Deputy from Binh Phuoc province, said the local people many times complained about the bad odors and pollution, but competent agencies affirmed that the indexes were within the safety line.

Especially, local people complained that their houses got cracked due to the mine detonation in the nearby stone exploitation site. However, the competent agencies still affirmed that the vibration was within the allowed level.

Environment-related disputes on the rise

A senior official of the Vinh Long provincial IZ Management Board noted that in many cases, consultancy firms could anticipate the negative impacts the projects will have on the environment, but they did not tell the truth, just because the local authorities showed their strong determination to develop IZ to attract as much investment as possible.

Nguyen Van Hau from the HCM City Bar Association has noted that the higher environment degradation level has led to the sharp increase in the number of the disputes relating to the environment.

The problem is that the waste discharged by industrial factories has affected people’s livelihood. In many cases, local people raised lawsuits against the producers for damages. Vedan, Sonadezi Long Thanh in Dong Nai province and Tung Kuang in Hai Phong City were once the defendants.

Hau stressed that while the pollution is so obvious, which can be seen with naked eyes, competent agencies still deliberately close their eyes.

Hau said local people have sued Nicotex Thanh Thai company which buried the barrels of pesticide under the earth, thus causing the serious land and underground water pollution.

Both the Hanoi and Thanh Hoa provincial Bar Association have agreed to give legal support in the lawsuit, while the Environment and Natural Resources Institute has agreed to take land and water samples for testing.

“We are awaiting the document from the Thanh Hoa provincial people’s committee on the issue. However, things seem to be stuck because of the creepy silence of the local authorities,” Hau said.

Source: VietnamNet

Nation pays heavy price for industrial gains

The excessive number of industrial parks and export processing zones have caused serious environmental pollution in the country, experts said at a seminar held in HCM City last Friday.

Dr Vo Thanh Thu, member of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s International Trade Policy Advisory Committee, said that rapid industrialisation in the past 20 years had led to a boom in IPs and export processing zones.

o-nhiemPeople from authorised agencies inspect the Ba Bo Canal, which receives wastewater discharged from HCM City’s Dong An Industrial Park. Industrial parks and export processing zones have caused serious environmental pollution in the country. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy.

As of last year, the country had 289 IPs, EPZs and hi-tech parks, and 878 industrial clusters.

Thu said the development of IPs and EPZs had contributed to the country’s economic development but those without master zoning plans had low occupancy rates and caused pollution.

“Provinces and cities have raced to set up IPs,” she said, adding that Ha Noi, the country’s administrative centre, was now the largest industrial one, with 19 IPs and EPZs and 40 small IPs and industrial clusters.

However, as of today, only eight out of the 19 IPs have been put into operation.

“In the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, 74 IPs are idle, representing a total area of 14,394ha, accounting for 60.2 per cent of the region’s total IP area,” she said.

In addition, up to half of IPs and EPZs have not built waste treatment systems.

Many companies have built such systems but have not used them.

Instead, they directly discharge waste water into the environment, causing serious pollution in local areas and affecting the lives of local residents.

In the past, most localities neglected the issue of environmental protection, as many projects in IPs and EPZs are labour-intensive. Few companies have high-tech equipment.

Workshop attendees also pointed out that laws on IP development contained many loopholes and unreasonable regulations, while penalties were not strong enough.

There is also an overlap in environmental management at IPs, causing difficulties for agencies, said Cao Tien Si, deputy head of the Dong Nai Province Industrial Parks Authority.

Many workshop attendees said that more hi-tech “green” projects were needed at IPs.

They also suggested that the Government and localities review IP zoning plans based on local economic planning, regional development, land use, urban infrastructure and local advantages.

They suggested that agencies work together to improve the monitoring of environmental protection regulations.

The seminar was organised by PanNature (People and Nature Reconciliation), a Vietnamese non-profit organisation established by a group of Vietnamese environmental professionals, in collaboration with other organisations.

By 2015, half of the industrial complexes in Ha Noi will be equipped with collective waste water processing systems, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has said.

Under the VND145 billion (nearly US$7 million) project, which was approved by the city’s People’s Council in the beginning of this month, the systems will be set up in 16 industrial complexes across 14 districts such as Gia Lam, Hoai Duc, Ha Dong, Dong Anh, Thanh Oai, Ninh Hiep, and Thuong Tin during 2014-15.

Of this amount, the Thanh Oai industrial complex in the suburban district of Thanh Oai and the Ninh Hiep industrial complex of the Gia Lam District will receive the highest investment of approximately VND14 billion ($660,000) each, according to Pham Dinh Duong, vice head of the Industrial Complexes Management Board under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

“Between 40-45 per cent of the project’s total cost will be funded by the State budget while the rest will be paid for by the complex’s investors,” said Duong.

The State budget is to cover works such as waste water collection, construction of waste water reservoirs, operating house of the waste water treatment station and a fence to protect it as well, he added.

Meanwhile, industrial complex investors will cover expenses for installing the equipment, technology and materials to operate the waste water processing systems in compliance with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s standards.

Ha Noi will conduct measures in order to effectively reduce the industrial pollution in the city by 2015, such as co-operation with relevant departments to increase awareness among the people about the issue as well as involve them further in environment protection.

The project is scheduled to start in the beginning of next month and will hopefully tackle the pollution occurring for years at the industrial complexes, according to Duong.

“After the processing systems are put in place at the industrial complexes, each enterprise is expected to pay VND4,000-8,000 ($0.2-0.4) for every cubic metre of treated waste water,” Duong said.

According to Ha Noi’s statistical data, up to 107 industrial complexes have been built in the city on a total area of 3,200ha. Nevertheless, only seven of them were equipped with collective waste water treatment systems.

Source: Vietnam News

Expert says neglect of duty in mining a form of corruption

The neglect of obligations in protecting the environment in exploiting natural resources can be seen a delicate form of corruption, an expert said at a seminar on Wednesday on transparency initiatives to protect the environment.

Dang Hung Vo, former deputy minister of natural resources and environment, told the meeting that many investors belittle the task of environment protection in their projects, thus doing harm to the environment and the community.

The strategic environment assessment and the environment protection statement required for such projects, especially those in mining, have not properly attended to by project owners, and in many cases, investors prepare such studies only to gain regulatory approval for their projects, Vo said.

The community can hardly get access to information on environment protection from each project, while compensations for the community due to environmental damages have not been properly enforced, he said.

toadam24122013Photo: PanNature.

“The failure to fulfill environment protection obligation in projects to tap natural resources is therefore a form of corruption,” he told the seminar organized by the non-profit organization PanNature in Hanoi.

Do Thanh Bai from Chemistry Society of Vietnam said thousands of licenses had been issued to investors as of may 2013 to tap natural resources nationwide. These include 79 licenses issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, 530 licenses issued by other central agencies, and 4,200 licenses granted by provincial governments.

However, between 30% and 40% of mining enterprises do not make periodic reports on their operations as required, he said.

Under prevailing regulations, of all the taxes payable by mining enterprises, 30% is to be paid to the central State Budget, while the remaining 70% is paid to provincial coffers. Information about the payment of such taxes is not transparent, Bai said.

Source: The Saigon Times

Vietnam’s response to climate change reinforce

Climate change would trigger harsher weather extremes in Vietnam in the coming time as it has in the past 50 years caused sea level in the country rising by 20 cm and average temperature up 0.5 degree Celsius.

At a seminar to review a project on national response capacity to climate change in Hanoi on September 20, Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Tran Hong Ha reasserted that Vietnam is one of the countries hardest affected by climate change, especially sea level rise.

The adoption of a resolution, a target programme, a strategy and a plan of action at national scale together with action plans issued by ministries, sectors and localities showed how serious Vietnam is in tackling climate change, the Government official said.

Head of the Hydrometeorology and Environment Institute Tran Thuc said the project’s four-year operation has contributed sizably to the building of the national strategy, the national target programme and the action plan in response to climate change.

The project, which also involved in how to reduce vulnerability and control green house gas emissions, has helped build up documents and technical guidelines to support activities to cope with climate change in Vietnam, Thuc added.

UNDP representative Bakhodir Burkhavov said the project worked to strengthen the policy-building capacity and scientific research on climate change as well as raising awareness and training human resources for the issue.

The same day, a discussion on how concerned parties can involve in appraising environmental impacts took place in Hanoi.

Participants voiced that an important step to verify environmental impact appraisal outcome that is to consult the community at the project site is seemingly neglected.

toadam-dtm

Photo: PanNature.

As such consultation is not yet legalised, the role and participation of local people and social organisations have not been paid due attention, the participants observed.

The consultation and information publicity regarding environmental impact appraisal has been regulated in the revised Law on Environmental Protection since 2005. However, shortcomings in implementing the activity remained.

The event was jointly held by the People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), the Asia Foundation and the Vietnam Forum of Environmental Journalists (VFEJ).

Source: VietnamPlus

Environment law lifts green ethos

Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen has urged that environmental planning must be part of the country’s plans for socio-economic development.

Speaking at a conference earlier this month on a revision to the Law of Environmental Protection (2005), the Minister said the focus would create a better foundation for the implementation of environmental protection measures.

“This is a key measure to better the legal framework for environmental protection,” he said.

02-moi-truongTonnes of litter left on the Tan Hoa – Lo Gom canal through Hoa Binh Street in HCM CIty’s Tan Phu District. Environmental planning must be part of the country’s plans for socio-economic. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai

In an effort to encourage greater commitment to environmental protection, the deputy minister stressed the need for strategic environment assessment (SEA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA) for major project.

Tuyen also said the responsibilities of households, producers and service providers in trade villages and local authorities would be clarified.

Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Sciences, Technology and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan said current regulations on environmental protection struggled with overlapping management, a lack of co-ordination between relevant agencies and increasing environmental violations.

He expected that the revision of the 8-year-old law on Environmental Protection, including measures such as SEA and EIA, would address the limitations.

Deputy President of the Viet Nam Association for Environment and Nature Protection Pham Ngoc Dang agreed that preventative measures constituted an important factor in protecting the environment.

However, Dang expressed concerns that current environmental impact assessments seemed to provide few suggestions for enhancing proposed projects, even though there was a visible impact on the local environment.

Warning against the long-term serious consequences, Dang said most environmental-impact reports were used to complete procedures facilitating the implementation of projects.

However, participants at the conference showed concern that environmental impact assessments (EIA) would unfairly focus on the direct negative effects on the natural environment, urging a more comprehensive assessment of social and developmental gains.

Tran Hoang Phuong from PanNature, a Vietnamese conservation organization, said that the EIA should be developed in line with its project investment initiative.

She added that it was necessary to improve capacity to evaluate EIA and encourage the engagement of the public and local authorities in deciding to develop projects.

Regulations on social impacts including effects on local resident livelihood, transparency of public information and monitoring also needed to be added to the revision, Phuong said.

According to the Environmental Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, nearly 25,000 environmental violations were detected across the country in the last three years, of which, 350 violations were prosecuted and fined nearly VND200 billion (US$9.5 million).

About 60 per cent of waste water in industrial zones go untreated before being discharged into the environment, including the Dong Nai River in the south and Cau, Nhue and Day rivers in the north.

About 70 per cent of factories located along these rivers do not take measures for environmental protection and waste water treatment systems.

All trade villages were found to violate environmental regulations, including the need for waste treatment systems.

Source: Vietnam News

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