Cleaner Production - Vietnam considers calling for socialization of sludge treatment

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Vietnam considers calling for socialization of sludge treatment

Updated 17:5' 8/22/2012
 It’s unclear where the hundreds of thousands of tons of sludge generated every day from the dredging of canals or the construction of infrastructure items will go.
The story about the Binh Hung waste water treatment plant in HCM City, which causes heavy environment pollution with its sewage sludge, has raised a question about the way of treating sludge in the city.

Thanh nien newspaper has quoted Luu Van Tan from the HCM City center for flooding prevention program management, said that the sludge volume created from the waste water treatment plant has increased recently due to the worse water quality.

This has led to the high volume of sludge stuck at the plant, up to 4000 tons. Meanwhile, 30 tons of more sludge is generated every day. As a result, the waste water treatment plant has caused environment pollution.

In fact, the sludge from Binh Hung plant is just a small volume of sludge that people can see with their eyes. Meanwhile, the other thousands of hundreds of tons of sludge created every day from the dredging of canals or the construction of infrastructure items cannot be controlled.

No one knows where the sludge is carried to and how it is treated. The contractors, who implement the infrastructure projects, when asked about the issue, give a simple answer that they would throw the sludge wherever they can.

Nguyen Trung Viet, Head of the Solid Waste Treatment Division, an arm of the HCM City Department for Natural Resources and the Environment, when answering the interview of Saigon Giai phong, confirmed that at least 500 tons of sludge is discharged from the dredged canals to the environment every day, which is nearly not treated. Meanwhile, the volume of sledge from infrastructure projects is much higher.

Simply, it’s because to date, no sludge treatment plant has been built in HCM City. In other words, there has been no infrastructure basis to treat this kind of waste.

Especially, Viet admitted that his department does not know how the contractors treat with the sludge generated every day from their works. Since there is no dump for discharging sludge, and there is no budget for treatment, contractors would throw the sludge wherever they can.

In the past, the HCM City Water Drainage Company was assigned to build a sludge treatment plant on a land plot in the Da Phuoc solid waste treatment complex in Binh Chanh district.

However, no progress has been made so far with the project, because the company still cannot find the investors.

Also according to Viet, it’s necessary to apply a reasonable mechanism to call for different resources in the society to join the sludge treatment.

At present, the domestic rubbish treatment in the city has been implemented under the “investment socialization mechanism.” Under the mechanism, the city’s authorities set the ceiling and the floor fees the city would pay to investors for the waste treatment. The city has also announced the investment incentives to the investors, such as the tax incentives or land leasing fees. The investors would weigh pros and cons before making decision.

Meanwhile, the treatment of sludge has been undertaken by public units. Every year, the units are assigned to deal with a certain volume of works which needs to be fulfilled within a certain amount of expenses.

However, the budget is so modest that it is just enough to pay to workers. The sludge treatment quality remains very low. Meanwhile, the city’s authorities have not succeeded in attracting investors to the field.

Viet emphasized that mobilizing the strength from different resources for the sludge treatment is the only choice.

Analysts have warned that in the next five years, when the city puts tens of waste water treatment plants into operation, the sludge volume may reach millions of tons a day. And if no measure is taken now, the sludge-caused pollution would be a disaster in the near future.