|Awards and funding opportunities
Awards for women entrepreneurs - Intercambio
The programme Intercambio is organising an award-winning contest for women entrepreneurs in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile. Applications should be sent in before 1 September. For further information:
email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bremen awards for public-private partnerships
Through its Bremen partnership award the Bremen initiative, in the next months, aims to identify, select and reward those municipality- business partnerships which stand out on account of their excellence, innovation and performance in making cities more liveable and sustainable for their citizens. Deadline for application is 15 January 2001. Read more about the award's categories, the application procedure on the following website http://www.bremen-initiative.de
The Sustainable Communities Programme of the Shell Foundation supports projects world-wide that strengthen the ability of communities and groups, particularly those suffering from the consequences of marginalization to improve their economic and social opportunities. It will provide access to relevant experience and resources to build economic and social capacity, so enhancing longer-term community sustainability. The first round of requests for proposals ends 30 September. For further information,
Greenpeace ends protest to block islands dump site
Source: JN - Japan Economic Newswire
TOKYO, April 27 Greenpeace protesters who blocked an industrial-waste dump on Kamikuro Island in the Seto Inland Sea National Park ended their protest Thursday evening after receiving assurances from prefecture government officials they would look into anti-waste measures in the area, a spokesman of the environmentalist group said.About 20 activists from the groups flagship Rainbow Warrior occupied the dumps loading barge earlier in the day, where they displayed a banner reading, Dont Dump in the Seto Inland Sea.
Greenpeace claims that hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic waste are shipped to the island annually. The group decided to end its protest after environmental officials of Hiroshima Prefecture, where the island is located, agreed to study anti-waste measures in the area and take up the issue with their central government counterparts, Greenpeace campaigner Matt Ruchel said.
The protesters boarded the Rainbow Warrior and the ship left the island at around 7 p.m., he said. Coast Guard boats and dump site workers were reportedly at the scene throughout the protest but there no confrontations.
Since 1991, about 2 million tons of waste from industries and local governments have been dumped at the island, according to Greenpeace. The dump site is operated by Daiyu Co., a Tokyo-based waste-management company.
Seminar on pollution in city, mitigation measures suggested
From a workshop held in Bangladesh
Environment pollution from automobile workshops in the city could be checked through recycling workshop-waste, using a simple and cheap technology, said a visiting expert from Nepal.
Anil Shankar Giri, Executive Director of Clean Wheel Nepal (CWN), was presenting a key-note paper at a seminar on Pollution from Automobile Workshops and Mitigation Measures at the auditorium of Womens Voluntary Association (WVA) in the city yesterday. Referring to a survey conducted on nine motor workshops in Kathmandu, Giri said that refuse like battery plates, iron scraps, diesel, petrol, lubricant, kerosene, cotton and electric wares pollute soil, water and air. He said that waste thrown around the workshops first pollute surface of the ground and later enter into soil and contaminate the ground water.
He said that the CWN had been trying for the last two years to refine and reuse the waste in an environment-friendly manner. A low cost technology to recycle waste kerosene from the cleaning of motor parts had been developed by the CWN, Giri said and added that it had been proved that the motor workshops could be financially benefited and the environment saved using the technology.
Organised by the Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD), the seminar was attended by owners and workers of motor workshops.
Philippines First In The World To Ban Incinerators
MANILA, Feb 02, 2000 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) The Philippines owns the distinction of being the first country in the world to institute a nationwide ban on incinerators through a provision in the Clean Air Act, Speaker Manny B. Villar said today.
This shows that we are willing to take drastic measures to improve air quality in the country to safeguard the health of Filipinos, said Villar.
The ban on incinerators was one of the provisions in the Clean Air Act that Villar was able to successfully pass, amid strong oppositions from a powerful lobby group funded by incinerator companies. The landmark bill was passed into law last year. It also sets stringent standards for fuel quality in a bid to arrest rampant air pollution and reverse their negative effects. Garbage incinerators, said Villar, do more harm than good to the environment as they emit toxic fumes that pose a great to the health of Filipinos.
Burned municipal, bio-medical and hazardous fumes have been proven to cause cancer and leukemia. We should no longer compromise the health of Filipinos, said Villar, adding that the bill will benefit Filipinos rich and poor alike. Villar stressed that there are more effective ways in addressing the garbage disposal problem in the country.
He pointed out a Solid Waste Management bill being finalized in the House of Representatives to address the garbage problem. It proposes a recycle-based waste disposal system to reduce the amount of waste churned out by Filipinos to put an end to the gargantuan garbage problem.
If this can be done in more advanced countries, I see no reason why it cannot be here, he said.
Villar, who was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air Act, also said that the law, which is in its early stages of implementation, will phase out leaded gasoline, the fumes of which are scientifically proven to cause mental retardation. Harmful toxins in fuel-based products will also be reduced significantly by the law.
We are committed to preserving and protecting the environment in order to improve the quality of life of Filipinos, said Villar, as he vowed to work for the passage of more pro-environment measures under his leadership.
(PNA) A (C) 2000 Asia Pulse Pte Ltd
G8 Ministers agree on global warming accord
JAPAN: April 10, 2000
OTSU - Environment ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) nations ended talks on Sunday calling for the early ratification of a global warming accord but papered over other differences on cutting greenhouse gases.
In a joint communique issued after the three-day meeting in the western Japanese city of Otsu, the ministers agreed that an early ratification of the Kyoto Protocol was necessary and that most countries should achieve that by the year 2002.
We agreed that an early ratification of the protocol was necessary and that this means that most countries must do so by 2002, Kayoko Shimizu, Japanese Environmental Agency chief and also chairman of the conference, told reporters.
The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 commits industrial countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2008-12. Developing countries were not subject to any specific timetable or target under the plan. The G8 countries papered over differences on more concrete details of the accord, such as specifying a deadline for its ratification and caps that can be set for greenhouse gas emission trading under a hotly debated emission-trade plan.
Nevertheless, environmental groups said the meeting was clearly a step forward.
I think it was a success that the countries of the EU were able to persuade the United States to agree on the clause for the 2002 date, said Yurika Ayukawa, Climate Change Campaign Officer for World Wildlife Fund Japan.
Japanese government officials said on Saturday that the United States was against setting any time frame for the ratification, saying that would work against the early ratification.
The results of this conference should pave the way for the success of a U.N. climate change conference in The Hague later this year, which is considered crucial in promoting the early ratification and enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol, Ayukawa said.
The sixth Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP6) to be held in The Hague in November, was expected to enforce the Kyoto Protocol by hammering out concrete measures for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are widely suspected of causing global warming. The G8 includes the Group of Seven (G7) industrial countries - the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada - and Russia.
Story by Kazunori Takada REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
An Israeli Museum Wallows in Trash
By Lee Hockstader Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, March 18, 2000; Page A13
HIRIYA, Israel ?? Central Israels most imposing mountain radiates a stench. A blizzard of birdsgulls, storks, pelicans, sparrowsflaps and feeds on its face, at times endangering planes flying into the nearby international airport. Occasionally a chunk of the mountainside will crumble and collapse, spilling refuse into surrounding streams and threatening an ecological nightmare.
The mountain, Hiriya, is in fact a landfill, 25 million tons of trash piled as high as a 20-story building and stretching nearly a mile alongside the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highwaya dump so huge, so rank, so grotesque and so in your face that it is now something more than a garbage heap.
Hiriya is the subject of a museum exhibit. The exhibit, running this winter at the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, is as disturbing, strangely compelling and attention-grabbing as Hiriya itself. It opens with a short film, run in a loop all day, that is a pastiche of the dump itself: scavengers, bulldozers, turkeys and maggots amid stupendous piles of steaming garbage being dumped, trodden, crunched and sifted.
Then the exhibit moves from descriptive to prescriptive and straight on to utopian, and things get interesting. For the theme of the exhibit, Hiriya in the Museum, is not merely the fact of one of the regions most enormous trash heaps, but what to do about it.
Can Hiriya be cleaned up? Made fit for human habitation? Transformed into a nature reserve? An aviary? A suburban neighborhood? A monument to destruction and renewal? Those are the themes explored by a variety of international artists who were commissioned to concoct ideas for Hiriyas rehabilitation.
I thought, how could you change the most ugly site in all of Israel and make it an attractive site? said Martin Weyl, who conceived the Hiriya exhibit three years ago. A landmark, like in Paris the Eiffel Tower, in St. Louis the arch and in New York the Statue of Liberty.
Turning Hiriyas trash into art may seem wildly ambitious, and a few Israeli reviewers have skewered the idea. But Weyl, 59, has a little practice with amazing transformations. For 17 years he was director of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, guiding its rapid expansion in collections and vaulting the museum into the ranks of the best in the world. On his retirement in 1997, Weyl cast around for a new project.
In consultation with former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek, whom Weyl served as art adviser, he hit on the idea of exploring the possibilities for Hiriya.
There is something in us thats fascinated with garbage, said Weyl. It is at the same time so ugly and so fascinating. And Ive become interested in its role in the modern world. Often garbage is out of view. Here it is in the very center of the country, at the navel of the country. For me it became a symbol of neglect and of how to deal with neglect.
Twenty or so artists recruited by Weyl were let loose on Hiriya, and the result are as bizarre as the mountain itself. Not all the proposals were practical, or meant to be; these were artists, not engineers, at work.
Mark Dion and Nils Norman, artists from the United States and England, respectively, proposed developing Hiriya into a pair of theme parks. In one, a biohazard experience, visitors would don protective clothing to tour a nightmarish world of vermin set amid a mutated forest and a river of toxic waste. In the other, tourists would relax in a cooperatively run, ecologically sensitive utopia.
Other proposals imagined Hiriya as a giant nature center serving as a green lung at the entrance of Tel Aviv, or as the base for a sports stadium. Vito Acconci, an American conceptual artist, designed an astonishingly detailed model for a garbage city atop Hiriya, where private homes as well as offices, public facilities and even a convention center cling to a wall of concrete mesh wrapped around the mountain to stabilize it.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, who is artist-in-residence with the New York Department of Sanitation, sketched plans for installing towering mist geysers at each of the four corners of Hiriya, representing the ecological health of air, water, soil and plant life. Over time, each geysers gradually shifting colorsfrom gloomy brown to sunny bluewould reflect the transition from pollution and degradation to radiant good health. Ukeles would also install a gargantuan conference table on Hiriyas high plateau, where Israelis could meet en masse to discuss ecological and environmental issues.
A huge job must be done right now to heal the site, and to turn the healing process into a cultural enterprise, said Ukeles. The situation is very sick.
Her proposal, Ukeles said, intends to confront Israel with its ecological degradation and to force a public discussion to cure Hiriya, even if it takes a generation or more. It means to make [Hiriya] so visible that it becomes a provocation, she said. Like, what are you going to do about it?
Hiriya began as a composting site in the early 1950s on the site of what had been an Arab village before Israels war of independence in 1948. At the time, the location was judged remote, undesirable and therefore ideal for its purpose. But the country grew up swiftly around Hiriya, and today it stands at the intersection of major highways connecting Jerusalem in the east with Tel Aviv in the west, and Haifa in the north with Beersheba in the south. Ben-Gurion Airport is a couple of miles away. It is practically impossible to go anywhere in Israel, or arrive in the country by air, without being confronted by Hiriya.
For years the mountain expanded day and night, and in the process attracted visitors--scavengers and collectors picked through its heaps to discover food,furniture, military equipment and packets of love letters. One woman came annually to be photographed in the nude.
Israel was 15 or 20 years behind Western countries in beginning to worry about the environment or developing ecology organizations. Only in the past decade has it begun to act. In 1993 the government closed more than 200 dump sites around the country, many unregulated or illegal. Hiriya was closed to new dumping last Israel is now developing a few safe landfills with modern sanitarystandards.
But the legacy of years of neglect is symbolized dramatically at Hiriya, and so Weyls exhibit attracted considerable attention. The environment minister attended, and so did planners and engineers from Tel Aviv. Intrigued, they asked Weyl to continue working on Hiriyas future, and that of the open land surrounding it, an area larger than New Yorks Central Park.
Not long ago Weyl showed a couple of visitors around on the ghastly plateau atop Hiriya, admiring with them the magisterial views and reflecting on Hiriyas place in Israels physical and symbolic landscape.
I saw Hiriya as a big wound in the country, a wound with pus that wouldnt heal, and also as a way to enhance the consciousness of the public about the problem of waste in Israel, he said.
He gazed out to the west, to the apartment towers of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean beyond. Doesnt it also have something peaceful about it? Like a graveyard.
2000 The Washington Post Company
Resource Demand Is Called Threat To Environment
Associated Press Monday, April 17, 2000; Page A02
Despite greater environmental awareness, growing demand for resources is threatening the worlds environmental health more than ever, a United Nations-sponsored report said yesterday. In the long term, it said, there could be devastating implications for human development.
For too long in both rich and poor nations, development priorities have focused on how much humanity can take from our ecosystems, with little attention to the impact of our actions, concludes the report released by the World Resources Institute, a private environmental think tank. The report reflects the findings of 197 scientists.
The preliminary findings, based on a two-year study, are to be presented in detail at a meeting in September of the U.N. General Assembly. It will be key in deciding whether the United Nations will direct a broader study on the state of the worlds environmental well-being, similar to an examination of climate change underway since the early 1990s.
The study was sponsored by the U.N. Development Programme, the U.N. Environmental Programme and the World Bank. It assessed the current health of agriculture, coastal areas, forests, freshwater environments and grasslands.
Among the scientists findings:
* Half of the worlds wetlands have been lost over the past 100 years.
* Dams and other diversions have fragmented 60 percent of the worlds largest rivers, and 20 percent of the worlds freshwater fish have disappeared or are in danger of vanishing.
* Half of the worlds forests have disappeared, and tropical deforestation continues at an alarming rate. About 9 percent of all tree species are at risk of vanishing.
* Fishing fleets are taking in much greater amounts of fish than the oceans can replace. As a result, 70 percent of the worlds fish stocks are being overfished.
* Two-thirds of the worlds agricultural lands have suffered from significant soil degradation over the last 50 years, and a third of the worlds original forests have been converted to agriculture.
Governments and businesses must rethink some basic assumptions about how we measure and plan economic growth, James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, said in a statement.
The report was released as environmental activists protested that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund too often support, through their lending practices, activities harmful to the global environment.
2000 The Washington Post Company By Lynn Scarlett
Whats Behind Landfill Privatization?
In late 1997, San Diego County sold all of its major solid waste assets to Allied Waste Industriesfour landfills, a recycling facility, and 10 rural bin stations. Through the asset divestiture, the county netted $184 million after paying off a $100 million debt from constructing the recycling facility. With the sale proceeds, the county created an environmental trust fund. Its bond rating jumped from a Moodys Baa1 to an A2 rating, an improvement estimated to save the county at least $280,000 per year because of lower interest rates that would accompany the higher bond ratings.
San Diego Countys asset sale was the largest of its kind. But it is part of a larger trend toward landfill privatizationa trend likely to continue into the 21st Century as cities and counties seek to reduce their environmental risks, keep costs down, and stretch limited public infrastructure dollars.
In 1984, just 17% of all landfills were either privately owned or privately operated. By 1998, that figure had more than doubled to 36%. Even more notable, private firms managed or owned two-thirds of all landfill capacity. And a 1998 survey by R.W. Beck indicates that the trend toward privatization continues. Nearly one-third of all cities with populations above 100,000 is considering privatization as a way to meet their waste disposal needs.
Increasingly stringent regulations hold part of the answer. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally promulgated stricter landfill regulations in the early 1990s, landfill costs jumped as much as $25 per ton at some locations. Smaller cities and rural counties found it ever more difficult to meet these regulatory requirements at their often small, local facilities. They began to close their own landfills and turn toward larger, privately owned regional facilities to meet their waste-disposal needs. But stricter regulations account for only some of the increase in privatization. Many local policy makers and waste managers point to a search for cost savings and efficiencies as the primary motivation behind their privatization decision. In the 1998 R.W. Beck survey, 44% of respondents cited cost savings as their reason to privatize. Another 19% cited the desire for greater efficiencies.
Not all public works managers are enthusiastic about privatization. Objections cluster into three categories. The first and most prosaic?is long-standing concern by public employees that privatization will mean a loss of jobs or lower pay for waste-management employees. But privatization architects point to employee transition programs whereby private firms take on the displaced public employees, staff reductions occur only through natural attrition, or public employees are shifted to other public sector jobs. Research by the Los Angeles-based Reason Public Policy Institute RPPI) shows that wages and benefits in the public and private sectors are often comparable. A second objection is concern over loss of public-sector control, undermining a local governments ability to ensure adequate and safe waste disposal or meet other waste-diversion and waste-management goals. The concern is understandable but overstated.
Lowell Patterson, chairman of the solid-waste management committee of the American Public Works Association, argues that waste management is a vital public responsibility, but that fulfilling that responsibility does not require public ownership and operation of waste-management facilities. A forthcoming RPPI study on landfill privatization points to contracting and other strategies that can ensure accountability and performance. Privatization agreements can include performance bonds or other sureties that serve as a buffer against any contract breach. Operating contracts or waste-disposal contracts can reduce performance risks. The third objection links to a broader concern about mergers and consolidation trends in the private waste-management industry. For example, participants at a July 1999 meeting of the Solid Waste Association of North America expressed fears that consolidation and privatization would subject the public to monopoly and predatory pricing.
While problems with market power by one firm may occur in individual local markets, this market concentration does not generally translate into price increases. And public officials can implement strategies to minimize threats of monopoly. For example, they can use contract provisions to foster competition and give recourse if acquisitions eliminate competition in a local market. Indianapolis uses a combination of waste-to-energy services at a facility owned by Ogden-Martin; it uses a landfill privately owned and operated by another firm. The Delaware Solid Waste Authority uses contracts with a variety of large and small firms to collect and dispose of the regions waste. Management guru Peter Drucker once commented that the purpose of government is to make fundamental decisions and to make them effectively...in other words, to govern..
But governingsetting public policydoes not require that governments also serve as the direct provider of those services. In fact, playing the dual role of policy maker and service provider can stand in the way of efficiency and accountability. For some local governments, getting out of the landfill business and becoming, instead, a customer of disposal services, can secure for citizens high-quality service at competitive prices and leave public officials to focus on policy making.
Economist Intelligence Unit from Business Asia 17 May 1999
Environment in crisis in Asia: Fall-out Environmentalists predicted the worst for Asias fragile natural environment following the regions descent into economic crisis. Countries such as Indonesia, they argued, would be forced to speed up the exploitation of vast forest reserves for timber and palm-oil cultivation, while cutting back spending on water, waste and environmental capacity building.
The reality has been a little different. The crisis prompted a dramatic reduction in economic activity, stunting domestic and foreign investment. It was accompanied also by a plunge in global commodity prices, which has hit resource extraction companies hard. Thus in the short term, suspensions, delays and cancellations of operations and projects has meant a lessening of the anticipated pressure on Asias natural environment.
But this benefit-by-default must be balanced against the fear (in some cases well-founded) that governments and companies particularly local companies squeezed by budgetary and revenue shortfalls would cut corners when it comes to environmental protection. Compliance with environmental regulations was at best lax in most of Asias developing economies in the pre-crisis era. Now, in the crisis and post-crisis eras, emerging environmental initiatives may (temporarily) be abandoned or diluted, especially those requiring foreign funding, expertise or goods.
The hazards of waste That is the broad picture, at least in the short term. But what has the crisis meant in environmental terms for large foreign companies? To begin with, none have been prompted to change their environmental policies in the region. The environmental management systems of multinationals are generally far superior to existing standards and practices across Asia indeed they are part of global environmental strategies which start from the premise of their own high minimum domestic standards and regulations.
But there are still critical issues to be addressed, key among them hazardous waste. Western and Japanese corporate standards dictate proper management of waste. But good sub-contractors are often hard to find in Asia. Nor has the economic downturn helped the growth of the Asian waste management industry (though it is important to be country-specific). In Indonesia, Waste Management, a US firm, operates a major hazardous waste treatment centre capable of catering to the needs of many of the multinationals there. Similarly, Malaysia and Thailand have built systems which are close to Western standards.
The Philippines, by contrast, has no world-class waste facilities, despite many feasibility studies. And the downturn has doubtless delayed any plans afoot. The issue is also critical in China, where the industry has been held back by the governments failure to implement a pricing structure for waste management fees.
To be fair, some Asian governments, fearful that cost-cutting by local companies could result in waste dumping, have moved to tighten their waste regimes. Singapore earlier this year increased enforcement of its waste laws, as did South Korea. But harder-hit, poorer countries such as Indonesia have been forced to backpeddle in environmental infrastructure investment.
Looking ahead Much still remains to be done. In the medium and long term, multinationals with leading-edge thinking on sustainable development companies like IBM and Dow will need to take a far more proactive role in helping developing Asia manage environmental issues. And there are sound business reasons for doing so.
As foreign firms increasingly pursue opportunities through acquisitions and strategic investments, foreign-invested interests will have a far greater economic stake in the region than before the crisis, and more exposure and thus risk and liability. It is wholly in the interests of large multi-nationals such as P&G, for example, whether in Indonesia, Thailand or China, to develop sound water supply, waste water and solid waste management systems and thus create the social conditions in which their products are more saleable.
For Asias more developed economies, the recession and ensuing restructuring will have positive long-term effects on environmental management -- in resource use, public decision-making and accountability, and project planning. What is worrying, however, are the medium- and long- term effects of the crisis on Asias poorer countries. While many continue to press ahead to create a legislative framework as comprehensive (at least on paper) as exists in Europe and the US, there remain powerful disincentives to implement protective regimes lack of funding, expertise and (often) political will among them.
This is where foreign companies can step in and help address the policy and technology issues necessary for creating the proper environmental conditions for their investments. After all, a sustainable Asia creates healthy long-term markets, and is in everyones interests.
The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 1999. All rights reserved. Technology by: www.eLogic.com
Industrial Zones...high falutin and high pollutin?
April 14, 2000 COPYRIGHT 2000 Vietnam Investment Review Ltd.
Source: Vietnam Investment Review, 2000
Among the eight operational industrial zones which do have their own wastewater treatment systems are Dong Nai provinces Amata IZ (daily Capacity 1,000cubic meters), Loteco IZ (1,500), Bien Hoa 2 IZ (4,000) and Go Dau IZ and NhonTrach1. In all, the past eight years have seen the mapping out of the 63 Izs (20 now operational three EPZs and one high-tech Park in 28 provinces and municipalities. They have so far attracted investment involving more than 850 projects, capitalised at $7.48 billion, including $6.1 billion from 543 foreign investors from 24 countries and territories around the world and VND17,000 billion($1.21 billion) from domestic enterprises. Around 40 per cent of the projects registered capital has been disbursed. Officials say 32 per cent of all industrial Park space in Vietnam has been occupied to date.
ANTI-POLLUTION authorities generally like industrial zones. By concentrating industry in specific non-residential IZ areas, they say, pollution issues can much more easily be brought into focus. Of course, once you have got a problem into focus you still have to deal with it. And right now, experts are beginning to feel on-edge about the scale of pollution difficulties emerging in the 20 operational IZs of Vietnam. One outstanding difficulty is that just eight of these industrial parks have thus far installed their own wastewater treatment systems.
Wheres it all going? This becomes a key concern when it is remembered that, on average, 80 percent of the water that is piped into an IZ comes out as wastewater. Solid waste is another growing conundrum. Local waste treatment arrangements are supposed to ensure such refuse does not end up poisoning eco-systems. But because of poor management in the waste-recycling sector, much of it could be doing just that. Between 15 to 25 per cent of IZ waste is put into dumps which scrap collectors search through. Yet there are scarce checks on whether or not the collectors later carelessly discard materials which have been subsequently deemed unrecyclable and so unsellable.
Researcher Phan Van Hoa, from Vietnam IZs Authority (VIZA), conceded it was high time Vietnam introduced modern incinerators at strategic rubbish tips, but that it was making little progress in this area due to lack of funding. Asked to cite types of pollution which IZs, and for that matter EPZs, could be hauled up for, Hoa quickly listed air, liquid, solid waste, noise, radiation and toxic chemical categories. It was clear he could have rapidly named several more, but that was more than enough to be going on with dirty arrivals. Troublingly, in order to facilitate the relocation into IZs of highly-polluting factories previously scattered across urban and suburban areas, plants have been allowed to move into zoned parks complete with much of their old technologies.
Most of these entities still cannot afford to buy in modern equipment nor purchase factory-specific wastewater treatment facilities. But officials would rather have them releasing pollution in industrial zones than in people-sensitive areas such as inner city districts. Just lately, however, IZ managers have upped the ante by warning that unless these relocated plants began to observe IZ environmental rules they would have to close down production lines that set off flashing red lights.
In the meantime, many relocated plants and new ventures in IZs go on spewing out discharges including toxic liquids and solids. The toxic question Dong Nai, which is said to have the countrys most intensive provincial concentration of IZs, is said to have a big pollution problem in this area. In 1997, the prime minister issued an urgent directive for the development of measures to treat toxic IZ waste.
By mid-1998, Dong Nai authorities decided Bien Hoa IZ Development Company (Sonadezi) would be responsible for treating such waste in Dong Nai Sonadezi was urged to complete a feasibility study to build a solid industrial waste treatment plant on a 10-hectare lot in Long Thanh District. Actual building of the plant has yet to begin.
Treatment methods for toxic liquid waste are generally less daunting than those for toxic solid output. For instance, chemical waste of Tea Kwang VinaCompany can be processed and reused. But, a more complicated process must be used to treat waste mud from the Choongnam-Vietnam Textile Company. At present, the mud is dried, packed in sturdy bags and buried at an industrial waste dump in Bien Hoa city. The collecting of the mud, the drying and packaging, are all done to minimise the leakage of heavy metals into the soil and undergroundwater supplies. It is an expensive process, and required because toxic waste treatment plants are unavailable. Experts counsel that good pollution management at IZs should involve raising awareness of environment protection issues, introducing a uniform legal framework on IZ environments, the setting up of a relevant body for IZ environment management to further invest in environmental research work, and training of local environmental management experts.
Naturally, it is not possible to be heavy-handed as regards closing down high-pollution enterprises. Not only would there be terrible economic consequences to consider, there would be painful unemployment and related social problems to digest.