With HCM City and neighbouring Binh Duong Province unable to reach agreement on whether a canal that runs through the two localitites remains polluted, plans to set up a treatment plant has stalled.
Ba Bo Canal, which runs through the city's Thu Duc District and the districts of Di An and Thuan An in Binh Duong, is contaminated by large quantities of wastewater discharged by industrial parks and nearly 10,000 households.
Last year HCM City had agreed to build the treatment plant but said Binh Duong had to ensure the effluents were cleansed of toxins before being discharged into the canal.
It is over this that the two are now deadlocked: HCM City says the water is still contaminated but the province says that with all the measures it has taken, the quality of the industrial wastewater has improved and it does not know why the city denies this.
The city wants Binh Duong to be more resolute in dealing with the industrial parks that contaminate the canal.
If it does not clean up its act, the VND744 billion (US$36 million) treatment plant would end up as a waste, it says.
Huynh Thanh Nha, deputy head of the HCM City Environmental Protection Department, said periodic tests of the canal water this year found that the pollutants, which exceed permitted levels many times, included COD (chemical oxygen demand), BOD (biochemical oxygen demand), TSS (total suspended solids), phosphorus, nickel, and the coliform bacillus.
At Song Than I, the coliform level is 1,189 times higher than permitted level, and at Song Than II, 32,000 times. At the Binh Chieu residential area, the amonia content exceeds the permitted level by 14 times, and hydrogen sulphide by 38.
Nguyen Trung Viet, head of the department's Office of Solid Waste Management, said long-term exposure to high concentrations of NH3 and H2S would cause paralysis of the nervous system and death. — VNS