Proposal to raise fish near paper plant's waste discharge lake slammed
  • | tienphong, dtinews.vn | April 12, 2017 04:03 PM
 >>  Paper factory pollution under scrutiny
Environmental experts have pointed out problems with the idea of raising fish by the waste water discharge lake at Lee & Man Paper Plant in Hau Giang Province.


Fish farms next to Lee&Man paper mill stop working because of pollution

The provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced a plan to start fish farms in Hau River, next to the waste discharge area of Lee & Man Paper Plant. According to the department, they can use the fish to measure the pollution levels of wastewater and the farmed fish can still be consumed at the same time.

However, To Van Truong, an independent expert on environmental and natural resources opposed the idea. Truong said paper plant can cause more pollution than mining as it uses a lot of toxic chemicals. Its wastewater is even more dangerous with the discharge of wastewater toxic substances. Meanwhile, the management in Vietnam over such substances is still weak.

Even with the most modern technology, there are still problems concerning waste treatment. For example, chlorine and its derivative components are still detected from the pulp. The wastewater contains many metals and can harm the people and the aquaculture.

According to Truong, the department shouldn't use fish to monitor the water quality as there are several types that can accommodate with pollution. The toxic substances may not kill the fish immediately but accumulate inside and are harmful to the consumers. For example the mercury poisoning disaster at Minamata Bay in Japan in 1956 that killed and affected thousands of people.

Fish raising near the waste discharge is already risky and even if the wastewater quality meets standards.

Tran The Loan, former deputy head of the Department of Pollution Control, also thinks that the plan is impractical as the plant recycles scrap papers. Metal from the ink will definitely accumulate in the fish. Because the plant uses chlorine to bleach, it's highly likely that the wastewater contains dioxin.

"The water may be polluted but if the fish get used to it, they may still be alive," Loan said.

There are only two centres in Vietnam under the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment that can analyse toxins but the process is costly and time-consuming. The national technical standards for wastewater and pulp doesn't force the plants to monitor the dioxin parameters until January 2018.

In early this month, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources ordered the Vietnam Environment Administration to collaborate with Hau Giang Province to investigate the reports about environmental pollution caused by Vietnam Lee & Man. The plant was accused of discharging untreated water and affect nearby households.

In last December, the waste treatment system was tested but halted due to pollution.

The USD1.2bn plant was built in 2007, but construction had been delayed several times. It is designed to manufacture 330,000 tonnes of pulp and 420,000 tonnes of packaging paper a year. It is the largest paper factory in Vietnam and one of the five largest in the world.

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