Thermal power plants are under much pressure as they seek to resolve environmental issues that are plaguing them.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade on July 23 held a meeting on the issue to find solutions on how to treat the waste from the plants.

At the meeting, many power plant proprietors said the problems were caused by a lack of preferential policies on land, tax and loans to encourage them to invest in resolving problems caused by pollution.

They said, investment in waste treatment was very costly and solutions in the recycling of cinder and plaster were still limited.

Tran Van Hai, Deputy Head of the Construction Management Board under Electricity of Vietnam, said the financial resources of most enterprises were limited and enterprises would face many difficulties if they did not develop better policies.

It was also noted that many thermal power plants would have to close because they were running out of storage capacity for cinders and ash left over from burning coal to make power.

A representative of the General Department of Energy said the Government had issued permission for the companies to re-use waste from power and chemical fertiliser plants for production of cement and non-flammable construction materials.

However, the official said there were still no technical standards or production lines to recycle waste in the construction sector.

Some power plants, however, had found consumers who needed small quantities of these products, he said.

According to the official, there was a need to review specific measures to tackle problems at thermal power plants, such as those at Vinh Tan, Duyen Hai and An Khanh, which have a high risk of causing environmental pollution.

Also, in the long term, the provinces should study solutions to use coal ash for land fill and the building of roads, he said.

He added that newly-built thermal power plants should have plans to build standard waste treatment systems and put them into operation before 2020.

During the meeting, Deputy Minister of industry and trade Hoang Quoc Vuong instructed the General Department of Energy to review ways of dealing with waste from power plants and setting up preferential policies for waste-treatment projects.

Each year, Vietnam has to treat millions of tonnes of cinders, while storage capacities are nearly full, according to the department's report.

The country now has 19 thermal power plants in operation, with a total capacity of 14,300WM, which consume roughly 42 million tonnes of coal per year and discharge over 14.4 million tonnes of ash, occupying 700ha of land.-VNA