$33.8-mln Hanoi plasma waste converter remains unfinished amid garbage overload

By Pham Chieu   November 27, 2021 | 05:00 pm PT
$33.8-mln Hanoi plasma waste converter remains unfinished amid garbage overload
A plasma waste converter in Hanoi's Dong Anh District seen from above. Photo by VnExpresss/Pham Chieu
A waste-to-energy plant using plasma technology in Hanoi remains unfinished since 2011, with its investor and authorities blaming each other for it.

Originally scheduled to begin operation in 2017, the plant in Viet Hung Commune in the outlying district of Dong Anh now has weeds covering many parts of the incinerator.

Thanh Quang Investment JSC planned to build it at a cost of more than VND768 billion ($33.86 million) using plasma arc gasification (PAG), a technology that uses a combination of electricity and high temperatures to turn waste into usable by-products without combustion.

It helps reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills while also generating electricity.

With a designed capacity of handling 500 tons of waste a day, it was expected to treat all industrial and medical wastes in addition to 100 tons of domestic waste, easing the burden on the city's landfills.

But despite having its deadline put off three times since construction began, the plant remains unfinished.

According to local authorities, the company has completed all major items, including the garbage pre-qualification system to classify waste and semi-process metals and another to compost and dry garbage, the plasma incinerator, and the smoke, wastewater and odor treatment systems.

Nguyen Anh Dung, deputy chairman of Dong Anh District, said the investor blames the delay on "a shortage of staff to run the project."

He said the district had given priority to the project and speeded up procedures to ensure the investor quickly received the 8.7 hectares (21.5 acres) of land needed for the plant.

"But many items have not even been built yet, and many land plots meant for the project have remained vacant for years."

Nguyen Thanh Quang, director of Thanh Quang Investment JSC, claimed the project is 90 percent complete, but, due to the pandemic, foreign experts have not been able to arrive in Vietnam to start its operation.

Another reason for the delay is that the company is still in the process of obtaining a license for the plant to treat hazardous industrial and medical wastes, he said.

"With the current investment, we will not earn profits by only treating domestic waste. There is nothing stopping the project's completion except approval to adjust its function," he said.

The project was initially approved to treat just domestic waste but later the investor sought permission for it to treat hazardous wastes as well.

For now, Hanoi is waiting for the Ministry of Construction's green light to grant the company the permit, Quang told Xay Dung (Construction) newspaper.

Hanoi has been facing a problem of overloaded landfills for years.

Nam Son, its largest, receives around 5,000 tons of garbage daily, and around 77 percent of the total trash generated in the capital.

Set up in 1999, the site is now approaching its maximum capacity.

Of the 6,500 tons of waste produced in Hanoi every day, around 6,200 tons are buried and the rest is incinerated.

A waste-to-energy plant using plasma technology in Hanoi remains unfinished since 2011. Video by VnExpress/Pham Chieu

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