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VEA orders HVS to use slag alternative

In Vietnam Society on January 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm








Mr. Le Ke Son

Deputy head of the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA), Le Ke Son, January 12 said inspectors had asked the Hyundai Vinashin Shipyard Co. (HVS) to use alternatives to toxic copper slag when cleaning and repairing ships.


Speaking to Sai Gon Giai Phong, Mr. Son said inspectors had ordered HVS to immediately begin using steel balls or water as alternatives to the slag, known as nix grains, to remove rust and paint from its ships.


Inspectors asked officials in the central province of Khanh Hoa where HVS is based, to support the Vietnam-Korea joint venture in maintaining production in times of economic hardship.


Mr. Son, tasked with leading the HVS investigation, stressed that the company’s earlier production and use of 800,000 tons of nix violated environmental protection laws and had caused public concern for over a year.


The shipyard was ordered last March by the VEA [a division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE)], the environment police, and Ministry of Transport inspectors to take environmental protection measures.


Mr. Son said that HVS would still be responsible for the 800,000 tons of previously produced nix and the company must commit to building a waste treatment facility.


The VEA deputy head said that while copper slag was a more efficient material for refurbishing ships, residents’ health and the environment could not be sacrificed for economic benefits.


Mr. Son reiterated that nix grain is not an illegal substance; therefore, HVS would be allowed to use it in the future if it ensured a good storage area and came up with effective nix treatment measures.


The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment must conduct regular environmental monitoring and impose severe penalties if violations are found, Mr. Son added.

Also on January 12, HVS sent a document to the media explaining its use of nix. It said in the last two years, HVS has tried to reduce the amount of nix used to repair ships.


However, due to a drop in clients as a result of the economic crisis, over 1,000 of HVS’ 3,600 workers had to be laid off. HVS says it therefore had no choice but to import more than 20,000 tons of nix to increase the efficiency of its ship cleaning and maintain profits. The company said it would not buy more nix in the future.


A treatment factory for the slag is planned to begin construction in March, 2011 with a capacity of 300,000 tons a year.






Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) to focus on improving environmental management mechanisms and policies on sustainable protection of the environment.

MoNRE needs to immediately prioritize safe water supplies for both urban and rural areas, Mr. Dung said while addressing a year-end conference on January 12 in Hanoi to review MoNRE work in 2009 and outline plans for 2010.

He urged the ministry to pay due attention to inspecting and examining rivers nationwide to detect potential pollution problems early and deal promptly with polluters.

Regarding the planning and use of land, MoNRE should better its management and use land resources in an economically efficient and appropriate manner, PM Dung said.

He requested that MoNRE work to protect wet-rice farm land, and specialized and protective forests, to help ensure both food security and environmental protection.

MoNRE said it completed almost all targets set for 2009, notably the issuance of a resolution on stepping up economization of the natural resources and environment sector.
 


Related articles:
Complaints escalate over HVS use of toxic slag
Locals accuse HVS of continued nightly toxin use
Residents worry over HVS dumping of toxic slag


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Complaints escalate over HVS use of toxic slag

In Vietnam Society on January 11, 2010 at 5:50 am

Objections from residents in the communes of My Giang and Ninh Yen in the central province of Khanh Hoa are mounting over what they say is the surreptitious use of toxic copper slag by the Hyundai Vinashin Shipyard Co. (HVS).








Resident Dinh Van Tien of central Khanh Hoa Province holds up his hand to show what he says is a layer of toxic copper slag dust which continually accumulates in his home. Locals are worried that the substance used by the HVS company is harming their health (Photo: SGGP)

Locals say the shipbuilding company has ordered workers to repair vessels at night using the toxic substance, known as nix grain, despite orders from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) to stop.


The environmental pollution caused from the nix worries the residents, who say they fear for their health and that of their children.


Ms. Trinh Thi Thu, 31, who lives in a residential quarter to the southwest of HVS in My Giang Commune, said evidence nix grain use was everywhere. She said a thick cover of dark nix dust could be seen on the surface and bottom of her washbasin.


Resident Dinh Van Tien, 60, meanwhile, showed reporters how a layer of nix dust could be seen on his hand after wiping it over a surface in his living room.


Locals are especially concerned about the health of their children from exposure to the dust, which experts say can cause cancer over a long period. In 2009, the two communes reported five people died of cancer while local nurse Nguyen Van Son affirmed many more suffered chronic respiratory sickness including bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonia.


Initial concern was voiced by locals when the Atlantic Star vessel from South Korea arrived at HVS on December 28 to offload 20,000 tons of copper slag as permitted by the provincial government.


Residents say a team from HVS then visited commune households asking people not to complain about the shipment and not say anything negative about the company. They also claim they were asked to sign a document stating that no family members suffered from respiratory disease, and allege that local administrators helped HVS persuade residents not to reveal the information to the press.


Recently, resident Le Loc claimed that January 5 a member of HVS told him the dust in his house was simply incense residues. He said he flew into a fit of rage at the suggestion.


Vice Chairman of Khanh Hoa Nguyen Chien Thang said the province would send a detailed report about the import of nix grain to the government and MoNRE. In addition, the province will hold the 20,000 tons of nix in a warehouse until the Vietnam-Korea joint venture comes up with a solution to treat an initial 800,000 tons of nix it had earlier produced itself. Only then would it be allowed to use the imported slag, Mr. Thang said.


He skirted the issue, however, of who would be in charge of the imported-nix warehouse and whether HVS would be punished for using the slag without permission.


The government has extended the timeline for treating the waste nix to the end of 2010, while a treatment plant invested in by the Hanoi Mineral Metallurgy Joint-Stock Company in Ninh Hoa District will not begin operations until next year.


It will take at least three years to treat the earlier produced 800,000 tons of toxic waste and local residents will thus be forced to live with the pollution for years to come.

Related articles:
Locals accuse HVS of continued nightly toxin use
Residents worry over HVS dumping of toxic slag


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share