The Bac Giang provincial authorities have turned the green light on allowing the Chinese-invested enterprise to build the plant without the report.
Tran Vu Thong, deputy director of the Bac Giang provincial Industrial Zone Management Board, said that the local authorities did not follow necessary procedures in the right sequence when licensing the project.
However, in an effort to satisfy development needs and create favorable conditions for the investor, they decided to allow JA Solar to build the plant before it submitted the environmental report.
Thong said that JA Solar won’t be allowed to begin its production after it finishes construction, if it does not submit the report as promised, or the report is not approved by appropriate agencies.
|JA Solar Vietnam, a subsidiary of Chinese JA Solar Group, is building a big $280 million solar panel plant in Bac Giang province, though it has still not submitted a report on the possible impact on the environment as stipulated by law.|
The local authorities’ explanation cannot reassure the public as experts pointed out that though solar panel is considered green technology, risks to the environment are always latent in some stages of the process of making solar panels.
According to Do Van Ha, CEO of the Clean Energy Company, the original material for making solar panels is silica SiO2. The substance undergoes a thermal treatment process to refine pure silicon. The process will discharge CO2 and SO2.
After that, silicon is refined together with other chemicals (Hydrochloric acid HCl) to produce polycrystalline silicon masses and SiCl4 waste. If SiCl4 is not re-used but discharged into the environment, it will cause a risk of acidification of land and water.
In the next steps – cutting these polycrystalline silicon blocks into wafer and use impurities to make the solar cell structure – manufacturers will have to use HF acid to clean the wafers. This may cause pollution to the soil and water if it is not controlled well.
An analyst pointed out that the investor doesn’t have any reason to delay the submission of the environment report. Once the investor can start building the plant, this means it has finished the designing and the technology process is clear. That’s enough for the investor to make the environmental report.
JA Solar has some similar plants in China and it must follow strict requirements in running the plants. Meanwhile, the environmental standards in Vietnam are built based on the world’s standards.
“The cause for delay in reporting submissions is unknown,” he concluded.
Ha said he was against the decision by Bac Giang provincial authorities to allow the investor to build the factory first and submit the environmental report later, emphasizing that this is a violation of the law.