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Pollution fines fail to deter businesses (23/03/2011)
pollution fines fail to deter businesses
Pollution fines fail to deter businesses

     HA NOI — Businesses are continuing to pollute the environment because fines are too low, Viet Nam Productivity Centre has said.

     Under the National Strategy for Environmental Protection, half of all businesses in the country should have had ISO 14001 certification by last year and 80 per cent by 2020.

     The certificate is an internationally accepted standard that sets out how businesses should implement an effective environmental management system (EMS). The standard is designed to address the delicate balance between maintaining profitability and reducing environmental degradation.

     However, the centre said the number of businesses that had been awarded the certificate was modest, though a broad array of firms operating in the food processing, power production, chemical, building materials and tourism industries had met EMS standards.

     It said management agencies had not taken sufficient steps to help enterprises meet the standards.

     In addition, some businesses were happy to pay fines for discharging waste into the environment rather than mete out the cost of treating their waste, which potentially could cost billions of dong.

A representative from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said Decree 117, which regulates punishments for polluting the environment, stipulated fine levels of just VND100,000 to VND500 million (US$4.7-23,800) depending of the severity of the damage.

     A report by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment stated that 10 out of 71 factories inspected emitted nitrogen dioxide at levels higher than permitted, while 23 discharged carbon monoxide at levels above what was allowed.

     It also stated that toxicity levels in surface water at 14 out of 80 sites inspected in 13 provinces were higher than permitted. The worst offenders were Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh and Lang Son.

     In urban areas, solid waste has increased annually by an average of 10 to 16 per cent. Solid waste from households accounted for 60 to 70 per cent of the total.

     Last year, households in urban areas produced 23,000 tonnes of solid waste a day, while just 82 per cent was collected, leading to pollution of the air and water courses.

     Tran Van Nhan, director of the Viet Nam Cleaner Production Centre, said clean technologies could help businesses boost profits.

     Le Thi Phuong, head of Thai Nguyen Refractory Joint Stock Company's Technology Department, said her firm produced 0.04 kilos of dust per cubic metre of product.

     She said her company in 2008 invested VND4.3 billion ($204,700) in a range of strategies to clean up its waste.

    "After two years of operation, the systems have helped the company improve its working environment, reducing energy consumption and dust," she said.

     As a result, she said her company had saved VND1.43 billion ($68,000) annually in energy costs.

     "Investing in clean production technologies can bring about long-term benefits in terms of both environment and profits. People will want to invest in businesses that pay attention to environmental protection as the world grows greener," she said.


(Source: Việt Nam News)

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