Eight years on, environmental eyesores remain blot on landscape

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VietNam News English - 48 month(s) ago 5 readings

Eight years after the Prime Minister's decision to deal with 439 ‘black spots' that have seriously polluted the environment, 101 of these spots are yet to be cleaned up, said Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai on Saturday.

HA NOI —

Making the comments at a video conference he chaired, Hai said the PM's decision released in 2003 aimed to either remove or set up proper waste treatment for these ‘black spots', which include manufacturing sites, rubbish dumps, hospitals and chemical storage facilities, by 2007.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment reports that to date, only 338 of the sites have been cleaned up or installed proper pollution treatment systems.

"We are way behind schedule," said Hai. "There are six provinces where these pollution black spots continue to pose problems, so we need to do a critical self-assessment and rapidly find a solution to speed up the work."

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen said a lack of Government's funding and the economic downturn had created difficulties in removing these sources of pollution.

Tuyen said limited access to pollution treatment technology also made it difficult for site owners to properly treat waste. The shortage included a lack of treatment systems for toxic chemicals and waste treatment systems for manufacturing villages and rubber factories.

Ha Noi People's Committee's deputy chairman Vu Hong Khanh said the city had cleaned up and ensured proper treatment facilities at 24 out of 25 sites that were on the list. City authorities had also released a list of sites that posed a high risk of seriously polluting the environment. The city pledged to help these enterprises relocate to non-residential areas or set up proper pollution treatments by providing favourable conditions related to relocated land or help with treatment technology.

Speaking at the conference, Quang Ninh People's Committee leaders said the province was short of funds to set up pollution treatment systems at coal mining sites. They requested the Government to provide more subsidies for the coal sector to help limit pollution.

In addition to the 439 pollution hot spots, nearly 4,000 other sites across the country are seriously polluting the environment. The Government aims to deal with these sites by the end of next year.

Deputy Minister of Finance Pham Sy Danh said that to make the target feasible, the media should step up its role in the issue. Danh said that when the media reported on pollution cases, ministries and local authorities should ensure proper investigations and respond in a timely manner.

"Only then, the media can have an efficient role in preventing pollution due to illegal discharge of waste," said Danh.

Deputy PM Hai said media agencies should increase the amount of coverage they give to issues related to environmental protection in a bid to increase awareness among enterprises and the general public.

Hai said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment should provide more training to Government officials to bolster the State's management capacity on environmental issues, with training focused on staff at local levels.

"Environmental officials should be able to access manufacturing sites and even industrial zones in districts under their jurisdiction," he said.

"Then they can investigate the environment protection activities of those companies." — VNS

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