Golf courses face green grilling

10:09 | 29/08/2010
The Tam Dao company’s violations are very common in most golf courses in Vietnam.

A northern Vinh Phuc province golf course developer has struck the rough amid accusations of Vietnam’s existing environmental regulation violations.

Tam Dao Joint Stock Investment Company has initially been hit with a $6,000 fine and it has become the first golf course  in Vietnam to be punished in regard with environment-related issues.

According to the articles 8 and 17 in the governmental Decree 117/2009 ND-CP, regulating sanctions on environmental protection violations, Vinh Phuc People’s Committee condemned Tam Dao company  as it had ignored assessing and monitoring environmental quality surrounding its 160 hectare Tam Dao golf course, 65 kilometres from Hanoi. According to the decree, the highest fine is $26,000.

Specifically, the company did not have any written record to prove it had delivered hazardous waste to treatment facilities while its contracts with the treatment facilities were not certified by local environmental authorities. It also failed to send periodical reports of hazardous waste management to the Vinh Phuc Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DoNRE) as regulated.

Nguyen Van Loc, director of the department, said: “It is the second time we have had to make an administrative sanction against the company. In 2009, the company was fined $1,000. However, when we carried out an investigation last month, it still made violations.”

Loc said the sanctions partially eased the anger of about 200 families living in Hop Chau, Ho Son and Minh Quang communes, where the golf course is located.

The anger also came from the fact that a waste water treatment facility at Tam Dao golf course was just put into operation late last year even though it opened five years ago.

Local residents sent many letters of complaints to authorities accusing the company of letting waste water with herbicide chemicals, antiseptics and other chemicals without being treated destroy underground water resources at the location.

According to Son Long commune residents’ statistics, water in 70 wells there cannot be used and eight people in the commune have died of cancer within two years. All the local residents are waiting for check-ups and results of research on the impact of the golf course’s waste water on arterian waters.

However, Luong Thi Hien Giang, deputy general director of Tam Dao company, said: “We only did not send all the necessary procedures to the DoNRE, but not pollute the environment as the chemicals we used in the golf course were approved by the MoRNE.”

Pham Manh Thong, from the Ministry of Public Security’s Environmental Police Department, said: “The Tam Dao company’s violations are very common in most golf courses in Vietnam. Except for these violations, most of golf-course projects currently operating or having just started construction violate rules on managing and protecting forests, forest products, quarantining plants, managing hazardous chemicals and illegally exploiting irrigational works.”

He added that further inspections were needed to  make sure developers tightly manage and follow Vietnam’s existing environmental regulations.

Last week, the MoRNE established an inspection taskforce, based on the governmental Decree 1239/QD-BTNMT issued on July 12, this year to investigate the implementation of current environment, land and water source regulations at golf course projects in Hanoi, Hai Duong. Haiphong, Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh provinces.

This week, the taskforce starts inspecting 19 licenced  golf courses, including four operating ones located in Hanoi’s Soc Son, Dong Anh, Ba Vi and Chuong My districts.

To Van Dap, head of the taskforce, said after the inspection, the taskforce would set up a black list of any violators, which will be made public via the media.

By Minh Tam

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