Vietnam Waste Solutions tracks down smell in Ho Chi Minh City

Updated 15:47' 9/6/2016
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Residents in the southern area of Ho Chi Minh City, including Phu My Hung Township, have been complaining that their daily lives are badly affected by a stink in the air. Some claim that this is caused by the nearby Da Phuoc Integrated Waste Management Facility. VIR’s Bao Minh talked with David Duong, president and CEO of Vietnam Waste Solutions – the investor of the complex – on this issue.
Residents in Phu My Hung recently claimed to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee that bad smell in the area has seriously affected their living condition and the stink could be coming from the Da Phuoc area where the Da Phuoc Integrated Waste Management Facility (DPIWMF) is located. What can you say about this?

During the past two weeks we have received some phone calls from the local Department for Natural Resources and Environment on the issue that residents in Phu My Hung Township are affected by foul odour in the air.

Right after that, leaders of Vietnam Waste Solutions (VWS) conducted careful inspections of all operation activities of the DPIWMF. I think the result will be officially announced by authorised bodies soon. However, we can confirm that all operation activities of the complex have been implemented strictly under modern technologies and thoroughly inspected and traced by professional equipment and experts. All data, information, and figures have been tracked regularly. Our system is operated by professional Vietnamese engineers and inspected online by technical experts of California Waste Solutions in the US, 24 hours a day.

VWS has hired the Yuki Sepre 24 Company to place booths in specific areas which the residents claim is the source of the bad smell, especially in districts 7 and Nha Be. Environmental data from those areas has been sent to a management centre for analysis.

So far, what is the result of these booths?

After talking with local residents in District 7, where some of VWS’s expat employees are also living, we were told that this bad smell could come from pig’s excrement and dead fish. Residents usually smell the stink at midnight or from 5 to 6am, for only about 10 or 15 minutes.

We are also doing scientific tests in order to determine if the smell comes from our garbage trucks, and whether or not it’s over the acceptable limit.

But again, I can confirm that since operation in 2007, the DPIWMF has followed regulations to ensure sustainability and quality. In 2014, we were even deemed capable to receive an additional 2,000 tonnes (over the then-standard 5,000 tonnes) of rubbish per day. We made sure to supply more equipment and workers to meet this increasing demand.

The DPIWMF has not yet built a green corridor, what is the reason behind this?

In our design, we have a 300 hectare green corridor between the DPIWMF and the local areas. This corridor is to prepare for environmental disaster if it happens and ensure the safety of the neighbouring areas. However, the local authorities have not yet granted the land to us even though we have put in many requests.

Some experts claimed that the DPIWMF is applying the technology of open landfill. Could this be the reason for the bad smell?

The technology applied in the DPIWMF now is the most optimal technology of waste treatment and it is now applied in the US.

Ho Chi Minh City chose this technology because it can reduce environmental disasters in landfills, it is economical and suitable for waste treatment, and it can be implemented immediately at the start of the project’s operation.

I want to make it clear that this is not only an issue in Vietnam. Waste treatment centres in other countries, even in the US, have also released bad smells. The important thing is how to control it within limits.

At VWS, I confirm that all treatment solutions meet standards and are strictly inspected by modern technologies. We are transparent so we usually invite visitors from authorised bodies, local residents, and organisations to visit us to see what we are doing.

What do you think is the source of this bad smell in the area?

Da Phuoc commune is a large-scale complex of 1,000ha including a cemetery, crematorium, waste treatment area, excrement and mud treatment complex, and a fertiliser plant. Therefore, I wonder if all of the above facilities are equipped with current technologies and strictly obey regulations on treatment like VWS does. The risk of releasing bad smells from the above facilities is very high, and it is unfair that only VWS is being questioned.

We have sent documents to the city’s authorities to request authorised bodies to investigate this case carefully. The management board, staff, and workers of VWS are ready to co-ordinate and share information and data to find out exactly where the smell comes from. We do believe that actions from the city authorities will help to uncover the reasons and solutions to solve this issue. It is important to ensure a clean environment for local residents and reclaim the prestige and reputation of VWS.