A cement production line (Illustrative image. Source: VNA)

Quang Ngai (VNS/VNA) -
Authorities in the central province of Quang Ngai have threatened to shut down a cement plant in Binh Dong commune if the plant’s management board does not take measure to improve air quality and dust emissions.

Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Ngoc Cang said the province would invite independent consultants to monitor the environment around the cement plant.

The authorities had relocated 107 households living just 50m from the plant to a new residential area, but more than 1,600 households remain due to lack of funding.

According to a report from the province, the Dai Viet-Dung Quat cement plant, which was built in 2005 and started trial operations in 2012 with a total capacity of 500,000 tonnes per year, had polluted the environment and residents of Son Tra and Tan Hy villages. The plant officially began operating in 2015, but had already heavily affected the lives of villagers.

Despite improvements made in March of 2015, the plant is still affecting local residents.

Cang said the province wanted to relocate 427 households living near the plant, but needed 989 billion VND (43.5 million USD) to do so.

He added that the province planned to close the plant down or move it to another area away from residents.

In other decision released last week, the province instructed the VNT19 wood-pulp plant in Binh Son district to upgrade its equipment and waste water treatment system before it begins operations.

The province said the paper plant, which had a designed capacity of 250,000 tonnes each year, had imported second-hand, low-quality equipment that would result in environmental pollution.

It said new equipment must be supervised by an assessment unit approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology and meet European standards.

The plant will need new coal-fired boilers, dust filters, cooling towers, drying machines and a control system.

According to the management board of Dung Quat Economic Zone, the plant was designed to cover 68.6ha of Binh Phuoc commune in Binh Son district, 20km north of Quang Ngai city, with total investment of 86.26 million USD in 2011.

According to the province, the company had requested adjustments to its investment licence five times, and to increase the budget for the project to 221 million USD.

However, the owner had delayed operations at the plant following its 2011 investment licence, and only some office buildings and stores had been built on an area of 6,200sq.m.

According to scientists and biologists, the project would pollute the environment and damage the rich biodiversity of a century-old nipa palm forest in the area.-VNS/VNA