Toxic wastewater leaks terrorize Da Nang neighborhoods

By Nguyen Dong   November 30, 2023 | 07:59 pm PT
Toxic wastewater leaks terrorize Da Nang neighborhoods
A man in Da Nang's Hoa Khanh Nam Ward builds a dyke next to a canal of black, foul wastewater. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong
Wastewater seeping off the Khanh Son landfill in Da Nang has invaded a local canal that is now poisoning residential neighborhoods in Lien Chieu District.

The water is leaking from the western parts of the landfill, located on Hoang Van Thai Street, into a canal next to the Ba Na-Suoi Mo intersection. After passing through a leachate processing station, it then travels to the Da Son neighborhood, and along Pham Thi Lan Anh Street.

This most recent stream of wastewater (reportedly only one in a series over the years), spanning several kilometers, first appeared earlier this month and is now affecting the lives of over 100 families in Hoa Khanh Nam Ward. Da Nang has ordered local authorities to fix the problem, but the issue still persisted.

"The water is black and the stench is there all day. It's more black and more foul in the morning. When the leachate processing station operates day and night, the wastewater in the canal is even more black," said Luu Chin, 73, who lives in the area.

Chin said he has been living in the house he owns along the canal for three years. He said that after the foul water had been black for several days recently, locals reported the issue to authorities.

Environmental workers then visited the site to apply chemicals to the canal, according to Chin.

But he said that only cleared the water and reduced the stench for a short while before things went back to the way they were.

Local neighborhood resident Truong Trong Tuan said the wastewater coming from the landfill goes to the Da Co channel before passing the Phu Loc processing station and then being dumped in the nearby sea.

Some in the area say the problem has persisted for dozens of years, and the smell gets worse every time it rains.

"The people have to put up with all kinds of pollution, from wastewater from landfills to dust and noise pollution from the Da Son rock mine," said Tuan.

He added that when it rains heavily, floods from upstream rivers carry in more wastewater from the canal, which isolates the neighborhoods and forces people to stay home or take alternative routes.

Several families on Pham Thi Lam Anh Street, despite being located over a kilometer from the landfill, cannot escape the stench coming off the water.

"I stay inside the house, but I have to wear a mask most of the time," said 44-year-old Vo Nhu Hoai Quoc.

Previously on Oct. 20, the Da Nang People’s Committee instructed the Lien Chieu District People’s Committee to cooperate with the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment to investigate violations regarding the release of untreated wastewater at the Khanh Son solid waste treatment complex.

Da Nang also instructed the Urban Infrastructure Construction Investment Project Management Unit to evaluate the landfill’s operations and ensure that all leachate is collected and processed before being released into the environment.

The unit has reported that the main cause of the leakage is a new waste storage area that operators have left uncovered.

Managers have also failed to repair damages in the covers that contain wastewater in storage areas throughout several other parts of the landfill.

Thus, when rainwater accumulates, the waste overflows back into the treatment stations and their discharge points.

Nguyen Dang Huy, chairman of the Lien Chieu District People’s Committee, said the wastewater seen in the neighborhood on Nov. 28 was determined to have come from the Khanh Son landfill, but the exact area where it leaked from had yet to be pinpointed.

On Nov. 29, the environment protection division under the Department of Natural Resources and Environment deployed employees to evaluate the water and take samples to figure out the cause of the problem.

Da Nang collects around 1,800-2,500 tons of waste a day, but the Khanh Son landfill is the only such containment facility available. Khanh Son buries trash next to the road leading to the Ba Na tourism site.

The area has one leachate processing facility, capable of processing 1,750 m3 a day.

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