>> Angry residents want to seal up polluter’s sewer
>> Wastewater treatment plant identified as polluter
Yesterday, at a meeting with some National Assembly deputies, many people in the district’s Tam An Commune, where a wastewater treatment plant owned by SZL is located, said the company had shown no respect for local residents and authorities in dealing with consequences caused by its pollution issues.
The deputies included Dang Ngoc Tung, chairman of the Vietnam Labor Confederation, Tran Van Tu, chairman of the provincial People’s Council, and General Major Nguyen Van Khanh, director of the Province’s Police.
According to Huynh Ngoc Trai, chairman of the commune’s Farmers Association, more than 260 petitions have been submitted to authorities demanding compensation totaling VND16 billion (US$768,000) from Sonadezi.
The plant, which is responsible for treating wastewater from 42 companies in the Long Thanh Industrial Park, discharged poorly treated, stinking wastewater into the Ba Cheo canal between 2008 and August 2011, causing environmental pollution and damage to the crops and aquaculture of hundreds of families.
On August 3, 2011 a team from the Ministry of Public Security’s Anti-Environmental Crime Prevention and Control Department caught the plant releasing about 9,300 cubic meters of black, stinking wastewater into the canal, which is the main water supply for about 500 hectares of farmland in the district’s Tam An commune.
A woman points to the wastewater discharged by the wastewater treatment plant owned by Sonadezi Long Thanh JSC(Photo: Tuoi Tre)
At yesterday’s meeting, Nguyen Van Trai, a local man representing the commune, said, “Morally, when a company causes pollution, it is supposed to apologize to people affected by the pollution and take measures to repair the consequences. Meanwhile, Sonadezi has never given any apology to its victims, but it often beat about the bush when being questioned about what it has done.”
The company hasn’t replied to local residents who have requested many times that it take action to deal with the damage caused by the pollution, Trai said.
Recently, a group of angry locals carried materials to the plant’s waste discharging outlet to attempt to seal it up, but their move was prevented by authorities. Meanwhile, Sonadezi leaders remained silent, as if such a response from locals did not relate to them, Trai added.
“Who has backed Sonadezi to allow it to show such disrespect for residents?”
Trai also complained that locals have yet to receive any information from the authorities about when the polluter will pay compensation.
“They [authorities] have kept promising that the issue would be resolved in 15 days, then in a month, and so on, but the issue still remains unsettled.”
However, Trai said he once witnessed a district leader call a leader of Sonadezi, but the latter did not answer the phone.
Compensation plan available next month
Nguyen Van Hai, head of the district’s Natural Resources and Environment Department, explained to locals that there is a delay because the authorities have had to wait for a scientific assessment of the level of damage the plant has caused.
Angry locals carried materials to the wastewater treatment plant’s waste discharging outlet to attempt to seal it up (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
According to the provincial authorities’ calculation, about 114 hectares of 682.8 hectares of the canal’s basin have been contaminated by the waste, and the rate of damage the Sonadezi plant has caused to the local aquatic source was 95 percent, he said.
Meanwhile, how much damage the plant has caused to crops and breeding grounds has yet to be determined.
Yesterday, the compensation board met about the issue and it is expected that a compensation plan will be available by the end of the second quarter of this year.
Tran Van Tu, chairman of the provincial People’s Council, said, “All businesses are equal under law. The authorities never cover up the offenses of any company. The authorities have hired the Natural Resources and Environment Department to assess the damage to form a basis for compensation.”
He also said that if Sonadezi continues to be uncooperative, the district authorities should report the issue to the provincial People’s Committee.
Many locals told Tuoi Tre that they expected the presence of another NA deputy, Do Thi Thu Hang, chairwoman of the Management Board of Sonazedi Corporation, the holding company of Sonadezi Long Thanh JSC, at this meeting.
“If she comes here and apologizes to local residents or provides a promise to us, this would prove she is a responsible NA deputy,” a local said.