Vietnam orders coal power plant to reduce pollution following 30-hour protest

Thanh Nien News

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The Vinh Tan 2 coal-fired power plant in Binh Thuan Province. Photo: Que Ha

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai on Wednesday ordered a coal-fired power plant in the central province of Binh Thuan to find long-term solutions to end pollution caused by its emissions and dust.
Hai made the order after being briefed by the state-owned group Electricity of Vietnam on the situation at the Vinh Tan 2 Thermal Power Plant in Tuy Phong District.
On the afternoon of April 14, thousands of residents in Tuy Phong’s Vinh Tan Commune flocked to National Highway 1 to protest the plant after strong winds blew an unusually large amount of coal dust into the neighborhood that day.
The residents blocked traffic, causing severe congestion stretching 20 kilometers on the highway.
Local authorities arrived at the scene and tried to persuade the residents to disperse.
It was not until 30 hours later that the residents agreed to end the protest. Traffic on the highway got back to normal around 9 a.m. on April 16. 
Since its official launch in September last year, the Vinh Tan 2 plant has discharged around 1,500 metric tons of slag per day.
Residents living near the plant complained that the transport of slag from the plant to the landfill caused serious dust pollution.
Thousands of residents suffer from the dust as well as emissions from the plant; many of them reported their children had pneumonia.

Residents in Binh Thuan's Vinh Tan Commune block National Highway 1 to protest the Vinh Tan 2 plant on April 14, 2015. Photo credit: VnExpress
The residents reportedly complained to local authorities about the pollution. District and provincial-level inspection teams came to the plant and ordered it to find ways to tackle pollution, but not much has been done.
Last December, the Vietnam Environment Administration fined the plant around VND1.5 billion (US$69,510) for its environmental violations.
The plant took some measures to tackle emissions and dust but they were not effective enough.
Following the protest on April 14, EVN Power Generation Corporation 3, the investor of the plant, pledged to take actions within 10 days.
It changed the trucks used for carrying coal slag, switched to smaller roads instead of the National Highway 1, covered the slag and wetted it before transporting to reduce dust.
It promised to make plans to recycle the slag, such as to produce cement, instead of dumping it into the ground.
Deputy PM Hai ordered the plant to strictly follow short-term measures while mulling over long-term measures to tackle pollution.
Built in 2010, the Vinh Tan 2 plant was developed by EVN under a contract signed with Chinese contractor Shanghai Electric Group.

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