Vietnamese firm criticised for polluting local community
  • | | September 05, 2011 12:08 PM

Sonadezi Corporation may have to pay up to VND11.5 billion (USD551,892) in compensation to farmers in Dong Nai Province for environmental damages.

Residents in Tam An deal with with Sonadezi’s pollution

A total of 186 households in Long Thanh District’s Tam An Commune petitioned the company, asking for monetary compensation.

On August 29, an official of Long Thanh District’s Farmers Association confirmed that area households have requested Long Thanh Industrial Park, owned by Sonadezi, to compensate them for discharging substandard wastewater into the local environment. They say that it has not only caused environmental harm but has also damaged their crops.

Individual petitioners are asking for as much as VND200 million (USD9,599) for each of the past five years.

The District’s Office of Natural Resources and Environment, together with the Farmers Association, has been evaluating the farmers’ complaints. They are also carrying out a study to define the level of the pollution and calculate farmers’ losses.

Environmental and social impacts

Sonadezi’s Long Thanh Industrial Park occupies around 488 hectares Tam An Commune, Long Thanh District in the southern province of Dong Nai. It is designed to discharge up to 10,000 cubic metres of treated wastewater per day.

The park\'s wastewater treatment system is operated by a subsidiary of Sonadezi Corp. They are also responsible for "environmental solutions" for 11 others of the company\'s industrial parks.

Currently the treatment system is being upgraded, but is still receiving 9,300 cubic metres of wastewater per day, according to Le Van Duc, Deputy Chief Inspector of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

During the facility\'s upgrade, they have been found to be discharging substandard wastewater. Sonadezi has admitted to not following proper procedures," said Duc. admitted that they had not followed standard practices," said Duc.

Le Viet Hung, the department’s Director, said that the department has powers to carry out inspections, but no powers of enforcement, especially against a large corporation such as Sonadezi.

The company was granted a license to discharge a certain amount of wastewater of a certain quality by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The problems have been caused, however, due to the quality of the discharge.

Vo Van Luat, Chairman of Tam An Commune, said the communal government has received a great deal of complaints from farmers since Long Thanh began operations in 2006.

"We\'ve made reports to both district and provincial governments, but no action has been taken," Luat said.

He added that anywhere from between 500-700 hectares of agricultural land in Tam An have been seriously damaged.

“We are terrified each time the company releases a lot of wastewater into Vam Muong channel on rainy days,” Tran Thi Thu Huong, also from Tam An Commune, said, adding that hundreds of chickens have died after drinking water from the channel, and that children and elderly people in the commune are coming down with respiratory problems.

Ineffective fines

The Long Thanh industrial park has been fined several times for pollution.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Vietnam Environment Administration fined Sonadezi VND75 million (USD3,599) in February 2011.

Earlier, they were fined VND31 million (USD1,487) in 2010 and VND17 million (USD815.9) in 2009. Still, the problem continues.

Substandard wastewater discharged into Ba Cheo canal

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