Viet Nam looks to lessen toxic chemical use

Close co-ordination between agencies is needed to safely manage PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) in Viet Nam, according to officials yesterday at a meeting in Ha Noi.

PCBs are among the 22 Persistant Organic Pollutants (POP) banned globally under the Stockholm Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants. They’re used across industrial sectors to control heat in electrical, hydraulic and other types of equipment, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. But they can cause cancer and seriously harm humans in a variety of other ways.

The meeting, co-organised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and Electricity of Viet Nam corporation (EVN), reviewed the 5-year implementation of a US$7-million project on PCB management.

The Government has invested both financial and human resources in managing and destroying PCBs since Viet Nam became the 14th member of the convention in 2002, said Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen.

Viet Nam has committed to stop using PCB-contaminated oil and PCB oil-containing electrical equipment and machinery by 2020 and destroy all related equipment by 2028.

Tuyen said Viet Nam faces difficulties in PCB management, including unreasonable legal frameworks, poor inventory on PCBs, limited awareness and a lack of Government inspections.

The project, funded by the Global Environment Facility, has helped State offices improve legal frameworks and provided a database for PCB management, he said.

Participants at the meeting agreed that financial difficulties make it harder for small- and medium-scale enterprises to deal with hazardous waste.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, deputy director of the Anti-smuggling and Investigation Department under the General Department of Viet Nam Customs, said the biggest difficulty for law enforcement agencies was a lack of serious punishment for transporting banned hazardous wastes.

Results of the five-year project, carried out in 63 provinces and cities, will help the country establish its National Action Plan for managing and disposing of PCBs safely.

The World Bank in Viet Nam has monitored the project’s progress and management.

Viet Nam hasn’t produced PCB-contaminated oil or electrical equipment containing PCB, but it imports them.

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