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Coal-fired thermal power plants threaten Mekong Delta environment

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Under the national power development plan in 2011-2020 (seventh plan) approved by the Prime Minister in 2016, a series of coal-fired power plants will be built in the Mekong Delta.

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Along the Hau River, in the area from Can Tho City to Hau Giang and the seaport between Soc Trang and Tra Vinh provinces alone, 15 thermal power plants have been taking shape. 

In Ca Mau province, there are two thermal power projects, Ca Mau I and Ca Mau II, belonging to the gas-electricity-fertilizer complex.

With such a power industry development scale, Mekong Delta will become a thermal power center of the country with high density of power plants. 

Nearly 95 percent of the amount of coal needed for the power plants in the future will be imported, because the domestic coal supply is becoming exhausted.

Le Anh Tuan from Can Tho University, in his article published in a journal, pointed out if more than 50 percent of energy for a national power system is imported, the risks will be high. Energy security will be affected in the case of natural calamities, armed conflicts or strikes.

In addition, the pollution from smoke and dust, noise and slag residue caused by the operation of coal-fired plants may cause grievances in the local community and sow seeds for protests and demonstrations.

Tuan also warned of the risk Vietnam faces when relying on technologies and equipment imported from China. Vietnam will suffer heavily if China suddenly raises equipment prices or stops providing alternative equipment. 

How to treat slag is also a heady problem. Every year, thermal power plants in Vietnam produce 16 million tons of slag and it is expected to toral 38 million by 2030. 

If Vietnam cannot find solutions to treat slag, the total amount of slag will reach 423 million tons, according to the General Directorate of Environment. This would cover an area of 65 square kilometers.

This means that from now to 2030, Vietnam will need 5 square kilometers of area each year to contain coal slag, equal to the area of a commune in the northern delta.

Coal slag contains heavy metals such as Cd, lead, mercury and arsenic. If the dumping grounds are not waterproofed well, the toxins will soak up the underground water and pollute water sources, affecting the livelihoods and health of the people around the plant.

In addition, the dust, smoke, SOx and NOx emissions from power plants will also be worrying. These emissions, when released into the air, will oxidize and in case of high humidity, fog and rain, will cause acid rain, thus affecting crops, aquatic creatures and the ecosystem. 

 

 

Source: VietNamNet

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