Following growing public alarm triggered by a series of major industrial pollution disasters the Ministry of Industry and Trade last week flagged 28 projects – including more than a dozen coal plants – as warranting “special monitoring” due to the risks they pose to the environment. The coal plants, which involve the state-owned power utility Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) or Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN), have become flashpoints for public alarm due to widespread pollution affecting public health and other industry sectors such as farming, fishing and tourism.
“We appreciate that the Ministry of Industry and Trade has recognized the problems the country faces with polluting coal plants,” said Ms. Khanh, Executive Director of GreenID. “During the past two years, the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance has done many studies related to the impacts of coal mining and coal-fired power plants. We have found that coal plants are a major source of air and water pollution, which has affected the livelihoods of people and has sparked many complaints. In addition, the local government and its people are not provided sufficient information about the environmental impacts and management plans of the plants. The local government, social organizations, and citizens cannot monitor the environmental protection plans of these projects.”
Already 20 coal plants in operation have posted significant threats to the environment and the health of citizens. These impacts would be magnified significantly if the additional 40 coal plants in the revised Power Development Plan VII are built by 2030 as planned.
“We strongly support the Minister’s request to manage coal ash waste and improve air monitoring systems at coal plants. Strengthening supervision and management of particular coal-fired power plants in operation is a time-sensitive and necessary step to reduce pollution,” said Dr. Tran Tuan, Executive Director of RTCCD. “However, to prevent pollution in the future, strategic solutions that aim to protect the environment and the public’s health must be developed. In many cases this means developing electricity supply projects that are less damaging to the environment than coal.”
The Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA) and Vietnam Non-Communicable Diseases Viet Nam (NCDs-VN) proposes ten recommendations to help Vietnam reduce the risk of environmental pollution caused by coal-fired power plants, contributing to the prevention of non-communicable diseases and health care costs in the residential areas of coal-fired power plants. These recommendations include:
· Suspending all coal plants which are still in the pipeline and conducting a full analysis of the benefits and costs of the plants;
· Conduct health impact assessments for all projects;
· Conduct full disclosure of the specific violations within the National Technical Regulations that each coal plant has violated;
· Transparently release all project information to the public to allow adequate monitoring to take place;
· Update the national air quality emissions standards in accordance with international standards and amend environmental protection laws;
· Establish a hotline to receive and respond to information provided by citizens on the implementation of environmental protection laws, especially those related to coal-fired power plants and
· Indefinitely shut down coal plants listed in MOIT’s blacklist of special supervision, and prevent these owners from pursuing new projects in case of reoffending.
1. Office of Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA)
Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID)
Suite 707, Sunrise Building, 90 Tran Thai Tong Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Ms. Do Minh Tam, VSEA Coordinator
Phone: 0915 558 690
Fanpage: Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance
2. Office of Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (NCDs-VN)
Research and Training Center for Community Development (RTCCD)
No 39, Lane 255, Vong Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Ms. Nguyen Hong Hanh, Communication officer
Green Innovation and Development Centre is coordinating organization of VSEA
Research and Training Centre for Community Development (RTCCD) is coordinating organization of NCDs-VN