Stored toxic waste threatens Halong Bay
  • | tienphong, dtinews.vn | August 19, 2014 08:39 PM

The authorities in Vietnam is trying to find ways to deal with 7,000 litres of toxic waste that have been stored near Halong Bay for seven years.


Toxic kept outdoors

Currently, only Holcim Vietnam Ltd., in Kien Giang Province has a license to safely dispose of the PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl) a chemical that is rated just behind dioxins in toxicity by Vietnamese regulation. However, the logistics of transporting 7,000 litres of the chemicals across 2,000 km is proving to be a problem.

Another proposal was to allow the Thanh Cong Group dispose of the substance at a closer location. An expert from Vietnam PCB Management Project said that Thanh Cong Group is capable of the task, the only obstacle is that they are not licensed. He added that it may take three to six months and VND5-7 billion (USD239,000-333,000)to safely dispose of the containers and their contents. 

In 2007, Cuu Long Vinashin Investment JSC imported three pieces of old heavy equipment from South Korea. Upon inspection, customs discovered PCBs hidden in one. Cuu Long Vinashin was fined for violating environmental protection law and ordered to return the equipment, but the exporter refused to take it back. 

Hoang Danh Son, deputy head of Quang Ninh Province Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the authorities did not dare move the chemicals because of the vast amount and the danger involved. Vietnam does not have any clear regulations on storing, transporting or disposal of PCBs. 

For seven years, the waste was kept outdoors at the customs' storage yard and the containers are corroded. Some of the chemicals have even leaked. According to Son, if this substance were to leak out, the damage it would cause to the eco-system in Halong Bay would be permanent. 

In May, Cuu Long Vinashin, Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the local customs had to remove the oil from the old equipment and store it in containers. The containers, however, do not meet safety requirements. 

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