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Wastewater standards still pending

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Wastewater standards on the amounts of nitrogen, phosphoric and ammonia permitted at seafood processors are still awaiting the final decision of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

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A view of a wastewater treatment system at a factory in the Mekong Delta region


The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment explained that these chemicals lead to eutrophication, a phenomenon in which the nitrogen and phosphorus amounts exceed permissible limits, causing oxygen depletion in the water body and excessive growth of plants and algae.

The ministry confirmed in the document that it is necessary to control the phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia content in wastewater.

The ministry’s delays in issuing a decision on the permissible amounts of these chemicals were attributed to the ministry needing to work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and VASEP to inspect various firms to gather information relevant to the adjustment. Besides this, the ministry intends to introduce a roadmap for seafood processors to gradually replace and invest in their wastewater treatment technology and improve conformity with regulations.

It is said that a standard on the amount of phosphorus in wastewater set by regulations under the National Standards 11:2008 is not subject to any control, whereas the National Standards 11:2015 regulate that the amount of phosphorus from seafood processors must be controlled.

Responding to this change, Le Van Quang, chairman of Minh Phu Seafood Corporation, said that the corporation had failed to address the move as the corporation had poured VND50 billion into a wastewater treatment system for a seafood processing factory in line with regulations under the National Standards 11:2008, which exclude phosphorus control, instead of under the National Standards 11:2015.

Even seafood processors that invest in wastewater treatment systems with phosphorus treatment standards found it difficult to meet requirements since some processors use groundwater, where the phosphoric content is up to 19mg per liter, for their production, according to VASEP. Meanwhile, the National Standards 11:2015 stipulate 20mg per liter for phosphoric content of wastewater discharged outside and 10mg per liter for that in wastewater discarded into water sources of the domestic water supply.

VASEP asserted that the amount of phosphoric content after production activities would inevitably exceed the limit regulated by the National Standards 11:2015.

Tran Van Pham, general director of Soc Trang Seafood JSC, told the Saigon Times that some chemicals were permitted to enter various markets but were banned in the country, leading to situations in which enterprises allegedly committed environmental protection violations.

“Importers will insist that domestic seafood processors commit environmental violations without any knowledge of the reasons due to reported punishments for standard violations in the country,” Pham stated, adding that these processors would suffer negative impacts on their prestige and reputation.



Source: SGT