Last update: 21:00 | 14/07/2017
The sea of Binh Thuan
Recently, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment licensed Vinh Tan 1 Power Company to sink nearly one million cubic meters of mud, sand, clam and gravel into the waters in Vinh Tan commune, Tuy Phong district, Binh Thuan province from June to October. This area is 30 hectares in size, only 8 kilometers from the Hon Cau marine nature reserve.
Pham Ngoc Son, Deputy Director General of the Department of Sea and Islands, said the discharge of dredged "material" in the sea is allowed by law. Prior to granting the license, the Ministry had taken time to review the regulations, review thoroughly the criteria, environmental impact statement and confirmed the "material" that Vinh Tan submerged into the sea, included muddy sand, shells, and sediment dredged in front of its quay and port rather than waste discharged in the production process.
Son added that leaving the "material" on the shore would cause the soil to become salty. "We have anticipated the possible impact of a mud layer covering coral reefs causing turbid seawater, so we need to reduce the damage to the minimal level during the submerging of the material into the sea," Son said.
Son said the Ministry would install 13 monitoring points in the area where the “material” is to be discharged to monitor and capture the background parameters of the sea and other chemicals in the water during the construction process. Once one of the 13 monitoring stations finds the data exceeding the threshold, Vinh Tan Company will have to stop immediately.
Mr. Son said the ministry would monitor based on the license, from the location, the dredged material,... while the Binh Thuan People's Committee will set up its special monitoring team, together with the Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography which acts as an independent monitoring force.
"The Ministry’s conception is not to exchange an environment for economic development, so the licensing and monitoring is always conducted prudently. Facing environmental concerns regarding this case, we are in discussion with the Vietnam Academy of Science to review this again ... ", Son said.
Dr. Nguyen Tac An, Vice President of the Vietnam Association of Marine Science and Technology, former director of the Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography, said that an "environmental disaster" might occur if the “material” is discharged into the sea.
An said that international and domestic regulations allow the sinking of waste into the sea. "But in the specific case in Vinh Tan, I find that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has not thoroughly assessed the marine environment here before granting the licence," he said.
After researching the license, An said that the places where waste is sunk are usually the waters of no oceanographic or socioeconomic value. However, the water where Vinh Tan is allowed to discharge its waste into is different. This is a coastal area of 12 nautical miles, rich in natural resources, sensitive to the environment so it should be protected.
The expert was concerned about the impact on the Hon Cau marine nature reserve. "This is one of the three coral triangular sites in Southeast Asia, and the coral ecosystem is a sensitive ecosystem,” Dr. An emphasized.