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HCM City's Ba Bo Canal is one of the city's hot spots for pollution. Officials have fined several industrial parks where factories were discharging untreated waste water into the environment.
The IPs penalised were Cat Lai 2 in District 2, Hiep Phuoc in Nha Be District, Tan Tao in Binh Tan District, Tan Thoi Hiep in Hoc Mon District, Tay Bac in Cu Chi District, and Binh Chieu in Thu Duc District, whose wastes were found exceeding allowed limits by one to seven times.
They were together fined VND330 million ($16,000), according to the Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper.
Hiep Phuoc, Cat Lai 2 and Binh Chieu were imposed the highest fines of VND75 million ($3,600) each, while the rest had to pay VND35 million each.
They were also ordered to make sure their wastes meet required standards within 30 days.
According to inspectors, though the IPs are equipped with central water-treatment facilities, most of them discharge more than 1,000 cubic metres of inadaquately treated wastewater daily.
But it was not possible to impose tougher penalties like shutting them down or revoking their licences given that the hundreds to thousands of factories operating in each would be affected, Nguyen Thi Du, chief inspector in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said.
Normally, wastewater has to go through two treatments cycles, one at the factory and then at the park level, before they are released into the environment.
For example, manufacturers at Hiep Phuoc are supposed to treat their wastewater to Level C before sending it to the central facility for further treatment, paying $0.1 to $0.3 for every cubic metre of treated water. Factories are fined by the parks if their treatment does not meet required standards.
All 15 of the city's processing zones and IPs had central wastewater treatment facilities, Nguyen Van Phuoc, the department's deputy director, said.
The department would crank up inspection to detect violations and install automatic monitoring equipment, he added.