Is MONRE allowing Formosa to discharge substandard waste?

VietNamNet Bridge - Under the national standards QCVN 51:2013/BTNMT, the reference oxygen content is 7 percent, but the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is allowing Formosa to apply the reference oxygen content of 15 percent.


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                Under the national standards, the reference oxygen content is 7 percent




In January 2014, the then Deputy Minister of MONRE Bui Cach Tuyen signed a document allowing Formosa Ha Tinh to apply the reference oxygen content in the sintering period at 15 percent.

Explaining the decision, Le Hoai Nam, head of the Pollution Control Agency, admitted this was a ‘special document’. 

According to Nam, in December 2013, Formosa Ha Tinh sent a dispatch to the Environment General Directorate to ask about the ceiling oxygen content. The steel manufacturer said that in countries with a developed steel industry, the reference oxygen content is set at 15 percent for the sintering period.

The General Directorate of Environment said regulations in other countries apply the 15 percent oxygen content. Experts on air quality control from JICA also suggested the 15 percent level.

MONRE, replying to a dispatch from Formosa Ha Tinh, said that it can apply the 15 percent level for the sintering period.

Under the national standards QCVN 51:2013/BTNMT, the reference oxygen content is 7 percent, but the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is allowing Formosa to apply the reference oxygen content of 15 percent.
On November 6, 2017, the Ha Tinh provincial Environment Department sent a dispatch to MONRE, reporting that the emissions from Formosa Ha Tinh could not satisfy requirements stipulated in QCVN 51:2013. 

Amending the laws

Tien Phong newspaper has quoted its sources as reporting that MONRE has assigned the environment general directorate to compile new national standards - QCVN 51: 2017/BTNMT on discharging waste in steel manufacturing, which will replace the currently applied standards QCVN 51:2013/BTNM.

This has raised concerns that MONRE is amending the current regulations to facilitate Formosa’s operation. Some observers said that MONRE just wants to please enterprises, while ignoring regulations and leaving the environment ruined by pollution.

Meanwhile, in August 2017, Formosa Ha Tinh sent a dispatch to MONRE, reporting the additional installation of the desulfurization, denitrification and deoxidization systems at the sintering plant. It is expected that the installation will be completed by 2020-2021.

MONRE denied that the ministry was allowing Formosa to discharge substandard waste. It emphasized that in order to control the emission from the sintering workshop, Formosa Ha Tinh has to invest in a treatment system worth $100 million.

The ministry said the emissions from the Formosa plant during the current trial operation period are being strictly monitored by MONRE, and that indicators of the waste water and emissions all meet Vietnamese national standards.

At the sintering workshop, the indicators are all much lower than the standards in QCVN 51:2013/BTNMT. At times, the SO2 and NOx content is higher than the standard.


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