Local authorities powerless in front of Chu Lai Soda

16:29 | 27/07/2016
Higher level and stronger governmental actions have been sought to deal with stubborn environmental polluter Chu Lai Soda Processing Joint Stock Company (Chu Lai Soda), as the local authorities have proved unable to stop the firm from continually discharging untreated wastewater into the Ben Van River.
photo source: cnnd

On July 23, in an unannounced inspection, the inspection team of the Vietnam Environment Administration detected that Chu Lai Soda continued to discharge untreated wastewater into the river, despite previously being closed to mitigate the environmental damages caused by its February violations.

According to the board, Chu Lai Soda has a serious track record environmental violations. Notably, along with the illegal discharge, the company has yet to carry out measures prescribed in its environmental impact assessment and failed to collect the harmful waste produced by its manufacturing activities. In addition, the company has been delaying the fine payment of VND731 million ($32,796) incurred for the previous violation. Accordingly, it has paid VND200 million ($8,973) only.

Le Vu Thuong, deputy director of the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone Management Board, said that the company’s most serious violation was its unfiltered and unlicensed wastewater discharge into the local river. 

“In general, in my opinion, it is a serious environmental violation, however, the authorities were slow to react and then deal with the incident unthoroughly,” he said.

“The management board is indignant over Chu Lai Soda’s relapse, however, we do not have the necessary competence to handle the company’s violations. Thus, we are building a report proposing the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to take severe punitive measures. Although Chu Lai Soda’s factory is a large-scale project with numerous contributions to the province’s socio-economic development, there can be no trade-off between the environment and economic benefits,” Thuong added.

In June, local residents protested Chu Lai Soda’s relapse into discharging untreated wastewater into the river, in spite of the local authorities’ ban.

Anger flared when the residents of Quang Nam threatened to block the company’s wastewater pipes.

In February, the local authorities directed the company to suspend its operations in wait for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s conclusions on its environmental violations.

Established in 2011, Chinese-invested Chu Lai Soda’s Quang Nam factory has the total investment capital of $120 million. The 60-hectare factory specialises in manufacturing heavy and light soda products, which serve as material to manufacturing glass, construction glass, pulp, and paper.

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By By Kim Oanh

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