Petrochemical refinery wants to dump sludge into the sea

By Le Hoang   May 26, 2022 | 04:49 pm PT
Petrochemical refinery wants to dump sludge into the sea
Aerial view of the Nghi Son Refinery in Thanh Hoa. Photo by VnExpress/Le Hoang
The Nghi Son Refinery in Thanh Hoa has sought the province's approval to dump around seven million cubic meters of dredged sludge at its port into the sea.

The dumping will happen until 2026, with 1.9 million m3 to be dumped this year. The dumping area would span 400 ha and have a depth of 25-26 meters, 22 km away from the Nghi Son fairway in the north central province.

The refinery said its port was designed to receive vessels with a capacity of over 40,000 tons and can receive 10 million tons of crude oil a year. Since the latest dredging in 2019, the fairway has received considerable amounts of alluvial soil, meaning the waters would not be deep enough to receive vessels as designed.

Currently, the port can only receive vessels of up to 30,000 tons.

An environmental evaluation report by the refinery, approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, says dredging is necessary for the refinery’s operations. The sludge can be dumped in the water, but could not be used for other purposes, like construction materials, the ministry said.

The refinery said it has not been able to choose a location on land to dump the sludge, and that this would involve higher costs because the sludge would have to be processed. Therefore, it is seeking approval to dump all the sludge into the Nghi Son sea.

A representative of the Thanh Hoa Department of Natural Resources and the Environment said the Nghi Son sea has already been approved as a site for dumping dredged sludge from three projects implemented by the Marine Project Management Unit, the Long Son Port and the Northern Vietnam Maritime Safety corporation. The sludge totaled around 6.7 million m3.

If around 7 million m3 of sludge by the Nghi Son Refinery was also dumped in the area, it would "overwhelm the environmental capacity of Nghi Son sea and affect fishing activities by locals," the department said.

Le Duc Giang, deputy chairman of the Thanh Hoa People’s Committee, said businesses could only dump dredged waste in the sea when it could not be done on land or when they cannot deliver any economic benefit. Authorities have requested the refinery to consider dumping the sludge on land and using it as backfill material, he said.

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