Concerns as Vietnam allows coal-fired power plant to dump waste near protected waters

By Pham Huong   July 2, 2017 | 02:06 am PT
Concerns as Vietnam allows coal-fired power plant to dump waste near protected waters
A plan to dump dredging mud into the sea in Binh Thuan Province has received strong opposition from marine experts. Photo by VnExpress/Tien Thanh
Nearly one million of cubic meters of 'organic' mud will be dumped near a marine reserve.

Vietnam’s environment ministry has given a power company permission to dump nearly one million cubic meters of mud from a coastal thermal plant into the sea.

The Vinh Tan 1 Power Company is going to dump the dredging mud at a depth of around 36 meters over an area of 30 hectares (74 acres).

The ministry said that the "organic" waste did not contain toxic or radioactive substances that exceed Vietnamese standards, but could not be dumped inland due to high salinity.

The ministry also ordered the company to install nets to prevent the waste from spreading, and close down the operation immediately if there are signs of adverse impacts to the environment.

However, experts say the ministry is wrong and should not have given the green-light for a dumping ground just eight kilometers from a marine reserve.

Nguyen Tac An, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association of Marine Science and Technology, said the damage will be hard to measure.

“The damage to biodiversity could cover a large area,” he said.

Creatures that rely on sight to survive could die if the water is disturbed, and they play a very important role in the ecosystem.

He said the ministry is prioritizing electricity over the environment.

Construction at the power plant started in July 2015, with Chinese investors pouring in 95 percent of the projected $1.75 billion investment. It is scheduled to open in late 2018.

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