Mekong Delta overloaded with garbage

By An Binh, Hoang Nam, Anh Minh   August 8, 2023 | 03:00 am PT
Many provinces in the Mekong Delta are sitting on a pile of garbage due to a shortage of treatment facilities, leaving the public frustrated with the resultant pollution.

One afternoon in early August mountains of trash had piled up at the Phuong Thanh landfill in Cang Long District, Tra Vinh Province.

The smell was evident from afar while black water leached from the landfill into the surroundings.

Thach Ngoc Giang Son, a local resident, said the landfill was set up more than a decade ago, and since then dozens of families living in its vicinity have had to put up with the stink.

There is a school nearby, and students and teachers face the same fate, he said.

Tra Vinh has 18 landfills and waste transshipment areas. Every day around 450 tons of solid domestic waste is generated, but there is only one treatment plant in the province and it can only handle less than 50 tons a day.

In Vinh Long Province, the 47-ha Hoa Phu landfill has been in use since 1997.

In 2013 a private company was licensed to build a waste-processing plant with a capacity of 300 tons a day to make bio-fertilizers. But it was in operation for only six months before being shut down due to disagreements over the cost and quality of the fertilizers.

In 2016 it got back into business but switched to treating trash by burning. Within a few months it again shut down, with the investor saying it was suffering losses.

Hoa Phu landfill in Vinh Long Province. Photo by VnExpress/An Binh

Hoa Phu landfill in Vinh Long Province. Photo by VnExpress/An Binh

These days it takes in 350 tons of trash a day and buries it in three areas, of which two are full and the third is expected to become full by June next year.

On hot days the stench from the landfill fills the surrounding areas, while on rainy days wastewater leaks into the surroundings.

Local people have submitted a number of petitions to the provincial authorities to find a solution but nothing has happened so far.

In Ben Tre Province, protests have been going on for two weeks now with people blocking the entrance to a landfill in Ba Tri District to prevent trucks from dumping more garbage.

The landfill in An Hiep Commune is more than 10 years old and used to receive 30-40 tons of waste every day.

However, since a waste treatment plant in Chau Thanh District was shut down last October, An Hiep has had to take in all the garbage from the district and Ben Tre Town.

The plant was shut after its management failed to install a system to collect and treat wastewater, ash and slag.

As a result, the An Hiep landfill has been forced to accept 120-150 tons of garbage a day.

The landfill in An Hiep Commune of Ben Tre Province. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Minh

The landfill in An Hiep Commune of Ben Tre Province. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Minh

The large volumes and shortage of facilities at the landfill cause odors and polluted water to leak from it, affecting people living nearby.

In the rainy season the pollution worsens.

Bac Lieu Province's largest landfill has been receiving over 100 tons of garbage a day for the last 14 years. The two-hectare facility has so far taken in more than four times the garbage it was designed for. The result? Yet again, people living in its vicinity have to put up with its stink and leaked water.

Bac Lieu produces more than 400 tons of garbage daily but has only two incineration facilities that can handle 0.5 tons per hour each.

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