HA NOI (Viet Nam) - Evidence shows that although coal waste from thermal power plants in Viet Nam has increased, the country still hasn’t made any meaningful movement towards utilization or industry reform. With density of 45 tonnes per square kilometer of cinder and coal ash, Viet Nam ranks at the top of the list in landfilling of coal ash, just below China.
Further studies show that Viet Nam currently has approximately twenty coal fired power plants who contribute to the current fifteen million tonnes of ash that is being discharged annually. This number is expected to double in less than ten years.
Recent measures to address this matter include a formal request from the Prime Minister to implement coal and ash treatment equipment in all plants, and to bring into operation by 2020. The follow up to this request was to be an undertaking by the Ministry of Construction, to work with industry organizations to create standards and regulations for this transition. Neither standards for managing this change nor incentivization for companies switching to green waste management practices has been issued.
Among the many disappointed with current practices for fly and coal ash management is current deputy head at Binh Thuan Province’s Department of Science Technology, Nguyen Van Nhon. Mr. Van Nhon condemns the current method of burying the waste of thermal power plants, as it not only negatively affect’s the land and water quality, but is considerably wasteful considering the demand for these ashes in parts of the world not too far from Viet Nam’s borders.
Winh Tan 2 plant in Binh Thuan is notably under scrutiny for its practices this year, taking no efforts to change their practices even after large groups protesting their plants and a formal charge of 66,000 USD from the government.
Industry and academic leaders are calling for immediate action regarding the lack of change in coal-fired power plants’ waste management. Industry changes require cooperation from all sides in order to be effective, as witnessed in the smokestack industries of China, India and the USA. The first step is to create preferential policies for waste treatment measures adopted by power plants. Secondly, the government needs to strengthen inspection protocols and reprimand companies that violate the Prime Minister’s new waste management reform. These steps will hopefully encourage the functioning power plants to find interested buyers of fly ash and reduce the exploitation of Viet Nam’s natural resources.