HCMC to close its largest landfill in 2024

By Huu Nguyen   January 3, 2020 | 11:24 pm PT
HCMC to close its largest landfill in 2024
A bird's eye view of the Da Phuoc Landfill in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Nguyen.
Stretched beyond its capacity and stinking badly, the Da Phuoc landfill in HCMC’s Binh Chanh District will be closed in 2024, authorities announced Friday.

HCMC's largest landfill, operated by Vietnam Waste Solutions (VWS), currently deals with 5,000 tons of waste every day, more than two thirds of the city’s total, by burying it.

The height of the waste piled up at the landfill has now exceeded its design. The stench gets particularly worse during seasonal transition periods, especially from dry to rainy season, and when the wind direction changes.

Da Phuoc staff have taken many measures to control the smell, ranging from spraying deodorants, using steam propellers and building greenhouses over burial spots. The odor treatment is supervised by the HCMC office in charge of managing solid waste treatment facilities.

Nguyen Toan Thang, Director of the HCMC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said waste burial was authorized by the city authorities in the past, when the landfill was located far away from the city center. Expansion of residential areas shrank this distance.

The Da Phuoc Waste Treatment Complex has a total area of 600 hectares, half of which is dedicated to waste treatment and the other to plant vegetation to limit the smell. Land clearance is being carried out so more trees can be planted, but it is being delayed for several reasons. This has caused the reek to spread even further to the surrounding areas.

The landfill has been blamed for the pervasive stink that has been badly affecting residents in the southern districts of HCMC since mid-2016.

In September 2016, the city promised to address the issue but the strong odor still attacks nearby residents. Frustration has escalated as it spreads further.

"It would be heartless to say [we] don't feel appalled about the odor, but the city is trying to solve problems left by history," Thang said. He did not elaborate.

VWS has been treating the city's waste for a long time, but at this point burying waste is no longer suitable and must be adjusted with a suitable roadmap, experts have said.

Many of the landfills in Vietnam do not meet environmental requirements and they upset people living nearby, Nguyen Thuong Hien, head of the Vietnam Environment Administration’s waste management department said at a press conference in July.

There is no solid waste treatment model in the country that meets all technical, economic, social, and environmental requirements, he added, saying burying a majority of the waste not only pollutes the environment but also means the country is unable to recycle garbage.

Last August, HCMC approved the construction of two waste-to-energy plants in Cu Chi District, which together will have a daily capacity of 4,000 tons of waste. They are scheduled to start producing electricity next year.

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