Garbage piles up in tourist hotspot Hoi An

By Dac Thanh   October 13, 2019 | 12:08 am PT
One overloaded landfill and another blocked by citizens protesting pollution have piled on the trash headache for the ancient town of Hoi An.

Trash piles up at Cam Ha landfill in Hoi An. Video by Dac Thanh.

The Cam Ha landfill in Hoi An, a town on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved centuries old houses and streets, is currently holding 70,000 tons of trash with no signs that it will be treated any time soon.

As one of the two landfills in Hoi An, Cam Ha has been overloaded since last year, but it is being forced to take in even more as citizens protesting the pollution of their environment have blocked trash trucks' access to the other landfill, Tam Xuan No.2, since late July.

Hoi An generates an estimated 100 tons of trash each day.

Over the last two months, the already overloaded Cam Ha Landfill has been forced to take in an additional 7,300 tons of trash, according to the Hoi An Public Works Joint Stock Company.

Nguyen Dien, a resident living 500 meters from the Cam Ha landfill, said the trash there has almost grown into a small hill, but it is still left untreated. 

The malodor emanating from the landfill spreads through the entire neighborhood and has seriously affected local life, he said.

"Every time the wind blows in from the landfill, the smell will torture us. The water leaking from the landfill has already mingled with the underground water and made it polluted," he added.

People living around the Tam Xuan No.2 landfill, which handles over 65 percent of trash for the entire Quang Nam Province, where Hoi An Town is located, have been protesting since July 27.

They said the landfill does not meet basic environmental criteria and that they have been harassed by its odor and wastewater, threatening their health.

The Quang Nam Urban Environment Joint Stock Company, which runs the landfill, said it has made efforts to deal with the pollution and along with local authorities, invited locals over to inspect the site, but locals have refused to allow more trash to be taken to the landfill.

But even if the Tam Xuan No.2 landfill becomes functional again, it would take up to three months to treat all the garbage inventory in the province, local authorities said.

Nguyen Van Son, deputy chairman of Hoi An Town, said officials have discussed the issue with concerned agencies, but they are yet to find a comprehensive solution.

For now, the town is calling on residents to sort trash into organic and inorganic categories and suggesting that the former is dealt with in their own gardens and farms, so as to limit as much as possible the trash that has to be dumped in landfills.

Before May 2016, the one hectare (1.47 acres) Cam Ha landfill treated trash by burning it directly. Later, an incinerator was built with a designed capacity of 100 tons of garbage per day, but this has only been able to deal with 35 tons.

Later the landfill switched to burying trash and by October last year, it got filled up and all trash from Hoi An had been going to the Tam Xuan No.2.

An aerial view of Hoi An ancient town in central Vietnam.

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