The only lake that provides water to the southernmost province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau is at risk of getting polluted because of a waste treatment plant.
The 20ha Thien Phuoc Waste Treatment Plant, based in southern Dong Nai Province, was approved for operation in 2013 by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MONRE).
One of its solid waste burial sites is located upstream of Cha Rang Stream, which flows into Da Den Lake in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. The 34 million cu.m lake is the only source of water for the province, with no alternative so far.
Worried that waste from the burial site may pollute the lake, authorities of the two provinces recently collaborated to inspect the Thien Phuoc Waste Treatment Plant, the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper reported.
The inspection results show that some leachate treatment facilities have not been completed and put into operation.
Some 120cu.m of wastewater is treated and recycled per day, but domestic solid waste is buried at a 2,000sq.m site since the plant does not have any incinerators, Nguyen Ngoc Be, deputy director of the Thien Phuoc Trading & Production JSC, investor of the plant, said.
The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report of the plant, approved by MONRE, shows that all treated wastewater from the plant will flow into Cau Moi Stream in Dong Nai Province through Soc River, which flows through both provinces.
However, authorities of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province pointed out that since Soc River flows at a level 20m higher than the plant, wastewater from the plant will not flow into the river as expected.
It will instead flow into Cha Rang Stream, located 50m lower than the plant, and then into Song Xoai Stream, eventually ending up in Da Den Lake in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.
The Ba Ria-Vung Tau authorities are worried that during heavy rainfall, all wastewater and solid waste will flow into Cha Rang Stream and pollute the only source of fresh water for a million residents of the province.
A number of residents living near the plant told Tien Phong that leachate has leaked from the plant into their paddy fields and killed crops.
The Ba Ria-Vung Tau authorities requested Dong Nai Province to ask MONRE to review the plant’s EIA report, and only permit the company to burn the waste instead of burying it.
“The best way to prevent pollution of Da Den Lake is to relocate the plant,” Le Quoc Tuan, vice chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said, adding that the province will cover part of the relocation costs.
Vo Van Chanh, vice chairman of Dong Nai People’s Committee, however, said although it is in the province’s best interest to protect the environment, at present, it was impossible to relocate the plant.
“We will impose hefty fines if they violate environmental regulations,” he said. “But at the moment they have violated nothing – they would probably sue us if we make them move.”
“It would make us look like the bad guy and shoo investors away from our province,” he added.