Vietnamese block garbage trucks with coffin, want treatment plant shut

By Pham Linh   August 14, 2018 | 11:15 pm PT
Residents of a central Vietnam district have taken turns to prevent garbage trucks from entering a new waste treatment plant.

For the past two weeks, people in Pho Thanh Commune in Quang Ngai Province’s Duc Pho District have set up a camp to cook on site, and blocked the street leading to the plant with rocks, logs and an empty coffin, protesting that waste from too many parts of the province is treated there, posing a huge pollution threat to their neighborhood.

The landfill in Pho Thanh previoulsy just took in garbage from the commune, but now authorities allow waste from other parts, including Quang Ngai town, Dang Vuong, a local, told VnExpress.

“Authorities did not even ask for our opinions before building the waste treatment plant.”

Locals want the plant to be closed, he said.

Nguyen Thi Ke, another local, said, “Duc Pho is now home to many families and as the plant is located near a residential area at the upstream of a river, we are worried it will pollute the water and affect our health.”

Nguyen Van Thinh, deputy chairman of Duc Pho District, said the landfill in Pho Thanh Commune was created in 2007 on an area of more than 15,000 square meters (3.3 acres) to bury waste.

In 2016, Quang Ngai Province allowed local firm MD Trading and Environmental Technology Co. Ltd to build a waste treatment plant near the landfill to treat waste by burning.

The plant began operation last January to meet the increasing waste being generated in Duc Pho, which is good for its residents and that is why there is no reason to shut it, he said.

Authorities have spoken with local residents twice since late July, telling them it is not true that the plant handles trash from other communes or from the town.

But the locals refuse to be convinced and the problem continues.

Thinh said authorities had told locals on the two occasions that the distance between the plant and houses is 513 meters, which complies with current regulations that stipulate a minimum distance of 500 meters.

Before building the plant, the authorities had held a meeting to collect public opinion, he said.

“The recent odor from the landfill is because workers at the plant have dug up trash buried years ago for burning and building a tank to treat waste water,” he said, adding that the district would instruct MD to ensure wastewater does not leak and there is no odor in the area.

Air and water indexes around the plant indicate it operates in line with regulations and does not infringe any environmental regulations, he said.

Le Thi My Diep, director of MD, said locals have persuaded the plant's workers, who were all from the neighborhood, to quit and there are now only three managers left.

With entry to the plant blocked, trash is now all over Duc Pho District. Locals have been burning trash in their backyard or letting it pile up on the streets before burning.

Vo Van Hao, head of the province Party Committee’s propaganda department, said the province would find a way to convince locals because a “waste treatment plant using advanced burning technology is a very effective facility that cannot be shut down.”

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