Southern canals clogged up but no sites to dump waste hinh anh 1Sa Ky port in Quang Ngai province (Photo:

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Several marine channels like Cua Lo and Sa Ky in the central provinces of Nghe An and Quang Ngai and Thi Vai in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau have not been dredged in years because authorities have been unable to identify dumping sites to dispose of the sludge after dredging.

Ha Hoang Viet Phuong, Director of Quang Ngai province’s Department of Transport, said hundreds of vessels enter and leave Sa Ky Port every day, but two vessels cannot enter and leave at the same time because the channel is too shallow.

The province plans to dredge Sa Ky Port next August but authorities are still looking for sites to dump the sludge dredged from it, Phuong said.

According to the Vietnam Maritime Administration, the Northern Vietnam Maritime Safety Corporation (VMS North) sought permission to dump sludge in the sea after dredging the Hon Gai – Cai Lan channel last July. But, after considering it, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said VMS North had to find dumping sites on land.

But last year, Nghe An province’s authorities permitted the disposal of sludge from the Cua Lo navigation channel in the sea, but the dredging work has been delayed by paperwork.

A spokesman for the Cai Mep International Terminal (CMIT) said Cai Mep Port handles cargo bound for Europe every week, but most imports and exports are transhipped through another country because large vessels (with 18,000-22,000 TEUs capacity) require a draught of more than 14 metres while Cai Mep Port is only 12 metres deep.

CMIT representative said the port has been unable to get permission despite several attempts to dump the sludge at sea, and this has delayed the port dredging work.

An alternative plan by the Vietnam Maritime Department to dispose of the sludge on land requires many formalities related to environment protection to be completed.

Do Minh Hai, Director of the Quang Ngai Province Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said the dredging of Sa Ky Port has yet to begin because of environmental issues related to the dumping of sludge afterward.

The dumping spot that was identified was some 5 kilometres offshore and three to 7km from the dredging site.

But Quang Ngai authorities suspended the project due to concerns the dumping could pollute nearby My Khe beach.

The Ministry of Transport admitted there are no plans for dumping sites.

Nguyen Van Can, head of the Sea and Islands Division at the Hai Phong Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said with over 40 ports in operation, the city has to dredge about 3 million cubic metres of sludge from navigation channels every year.

But authorities cannot permit the dumping of sludge at sea, and this has to be done on land, he said.

Ta Dinh Thi, Acting General Director of the Vietnam Sea and Island Department, said the need to identify dumping sites at sea has become an “urgent issue” across the country.

However, a plan for this is set to be approved by the National Assembly not earlier than 2020, he added.-VNS/VNA