Vietnam Waste Solutions Company has sought multiple direct dialogues with local authorities to counter allegations of environmental violations at its Da Phuoc Waste Treatment Complex.
|Many delegations of foreign experts have visited VWS every year to assess the firm’s performance and technology|
According to Minute No.01/BB-VPHC on administrative violations in the field of protecting the environment released by the Vietnam Environment Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), Vietnam Waste Solutions Company (VWS) was accused of committing several violations. The facility was suspected of failing to install sewage treatment facilities as required, of discharging wastewater that did not meet safety standards, and of providing an environmental impact assessment report in which one item was left unfinished.
VWS was saddled with a hefty fine for these violations. The company was also required to stop storing waste water as well as to quickly handle waste discharge in its second landfill.
David Duong, chairman of VWS, said, “We have sent two documents to the Vietnam Environment Administration after receiving the document dated June 9, 2017. We are striving to provide an explanation so that the authorities can understand our waste treatment technology and process. However, we have not received any response from the administration.”
Kevin Moore, the firm’s managing director, shared with VIR a comprehensive explanation for the allegations. Primarily, he declared that MoNRE’s conclusion that VWS failed to equip the environmental protection facility as prescribed by the law should be reconsidered. The main reason being that Da Phuoc Waste Treatment Complex had raised its capacity on November 30, 2014. The increase happened before the environmental impact report (EIR) on the complex was released.
In addition, VWS was requested by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee to handle all of the garbage following the closure of the polluted Phuoc Hiep landfill. When a large amount of garbage was relocated to Da Phuoc, VWS had to raise treatment output from 3,000 tonnes of waste per day to 10,000. VWS is among a selected group of companies capable of treating all of the garbage in the city.
The EIR specifies that Da Phuoc installed additional sewage treatment facilities following the increase of the output. However, the report does not mention that the landfill upgraded all of the facilities at once.
VWS recognised the increasing amount of liquid waste dripping from hard garbage by the end of 2015. The company’s American experts and local engineers worked together to develop a new technology for liquid waste treatment. VWS hired some contractors and negotiated for the upgrade project.
VWS decided to increase the waste water treatment output in the membrane bioreactor (MBR) factory from 1,000 cubic metres per day to 3,000 cubic metres per day, bringing the total daily capacity from 4,280 cubic metres to 6,280 cubic metres as committed in the EIR. Indeed, VWS followed the EIR’s requirements by installing sewage treatment modules after raising the capacity.
Another allegation involved the firm’s failure to provide adequate evaluation reports regarding waste storage and processing procedures.
Moore said that waste water is stored in reservoirs before being processed. VWS has treated the bottom with a special layer and built dam systems surrounding the reservoirs. “We have applied rigorous standards in developing waste water reservoirs to avoid dripping and environmental pollution,” he said.
VWS has co-operated with the environment technology and management centre (ETM) to check the soil and air quality at the second reservoir. After studying samples collected in April 2016, the centre released good results for both soil and air at the site.
“The air quality assessment indicates that the second reservoir does not contaminate the surrounding environment and affect the neighbouring households. Meanwhile, the analysis of soil quality shows that the reservoir is running efficiently without any negative impact on the environment,” Moore said.
VWS is also accused of failing to submit a completion certificate for environmental protection projects. However, VWS already took immediate action after receiving the EIR in February 2015. The company completed all documents and reports on environmental protection to submit to the ministry in February 2016.
VWS managers expressed concerns about the gap between VWS’ regular environmental assessment and the administration’s random testing results.
The allegations include that VWS discharged waste water surpassing the technical standards by one to three times, around 1,000 to 1,200 cubic metres per day (24 hours a day). However, both ETM and VWS laboratories have conducted sample testing at the same time, but achieved different results.
VWS has hired an independent company known as Water and Environmental Technology Institute (WETI) to double check ETM’s analysis results. WETI and ETM constantly took waste water samples for testing at Da Phuoc throughout March 2017. Both of them achieved compatible results meeting national technical regulations on the environment like QCVN 40:2011/BTNMT.
“To achieve objective results, VWS has hired independent companies to implement testing,” said David Duong. “We wonder why the results are different from those of the environmental administration. Further, VWS has installed automated monitoring systems at sluice gates TW1 and TW2 to check the quality of discharged material. The systems have been certified and accredited by the Centre for Environmental Monitoring under the Vietnam Environment Administration.
“We believe that the results are based on proven expertise. If the disparity between environmental assessments is correct, VWS is willing to make suitable adjustments. Our principle is to operate in accordance with the laws to pursue long-term investments in our hometown,” said Duong.
By Bao Minh