Cement, clinker loading to be stopped to protect Ha Long Bay

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Clinker being transferred from one boat to another in Ha Long Bay last May

The northern province of Quang Ninh plans to stop the loading and unloading of construction materials in Ha Long Bay from December to save the world UNESCO heritage site from further pollution.

Local businesses use the bay as a place to transfer cement and clinkers since there is little wind and the water is deep enough for boats of up to 30,000 tons.

Using the bay saves them the expense of paying ports.

But the activities are an eyesore, hinder tourism boats, and cause pollution and chaos in the bay, so they would be penalized, the province's decision said, Lao Dong reported.

Cement and clinker will be the first to be banned, followed by other materials, with their loading and unloading moved to a nearby port. The province has huge reserves of coal which is used for clinker to produce cement.

More than five million tons of materials were transferred in the bay last year, including nearly four million tons of clinker. Cement, rock, and many kinds of ores were also loaded.

The quantity has risen this year, with around 4.5 million tons of clinkers loaded in the bay in the first nine months.

Half of it was by cement companies in Quang Ninh, and the rest by firms from Hai Phong city and Hai Duong, Ha Nam, and Ninh Binh Provinces.

Some experts from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, who are working for the Ha Long Bay Environment Protection Project were quoted by Lao Dong newspaper as saying that construction materials have thickened the sediment at the bottom of the bay, killing algae and plankton, and thus fish, and keeping away seabirds which can no longer find food.

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Protecting the environment in Ha Long has become essential since it is also threatened by dumping of waste by more than 200 families and most of the 520 tourism boats, including 200 that cruise overnight.

The Ha Long Bay management board said in September that near-shore waters in several places showed increased opaqueness and oil.

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