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April 13th, 2015:

Vietnamese incinerators create deadly dioxin gases

Many incinerators in Viet Nam are discharging high amount of dioxins into the environment, according to a new research.

The research was carried out by the project titled Environmental Remediation in Dioxin Contaminated Hotspots in Viet Nam organised by the Office of National Steering Committee 33, the body in charge of handling the consequences of toxic chemicals used by the United States during the war in Viet Nam and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE).

The research results were extracted in a report on the dioxin contamination in the environment of Viet Nam issued in November last year.

“In this report, Viet Nam admits for the first time that there’s dioxin discharged from industrial activities besides dioxin left from the war,” Le Ke Son, director of the project and former deputy head of Environment Agency under the MONRE, was quoted by Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper as saying.

Incinerators that burn industrial and medical waste generate most dioxin. This is shown by examination of dioxin and dioxin related compounds (DRCs) in their emission and sewage, the report said.

According to the World Health Organisation, dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

Dioxin influences people’s health, mainly through breathing toxic air and eating polluted food. The emission of dioxin into the environment can directly affect people and animals, while the discharge of dioxin-contaminated sewage poses risk to land, water, sediment and animals.

The researchers took 18 emissions samples from medical, industrial and urban incinerators. All contained DRCs. Seven exceeding the safe limit from several to dozens of times.

Safety issue
Three out of seven samples taken from Ha Noi’s incinerators exceeded the safe limit with the one sample 16 times over the allowed level of 600 picograms toxic equivalent (TEQ) of dioxin per normal cubic metre.

Hai Duong Province had two samples of industrial waste treatment with TEQ of dioxin up to 46,800 picograms, or 81 times over the allowed level. HCM City had one sample that exceeded the permissible level by five times.

Viet Nam does not set a dioxin limit for sewage, but based on the Japanese standard of 10 picograms per normal cubic metre, HCM City has the worst dioxin pollution with three out of five samples polluted with one exceeding the limit by 5,000 times.

Two samples in Ha Noi were five and 23 times over the limit while four samples in Hai Duong Province were between three and 129 times above the permited level.

Son blamed backward technology for generating dioxin at incineration plants.

Most incinerators in Viet Nam had low capacity and few could reach the temperature needed to break down dioxin, he said. Besides, the emissions in a number of incinerators were treated by cooling, which raise concern over discharging dioxin emission into the atmosphere.

According Nguyen Huy Nga, former director of the Health Environment Management Agency under the Ministry of Health, incinerators have been banned in developed countries for many years as it pollutes the environment and poses threat to people’s health. In Viet Nam, the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment also recommend not using incinerators.

The country now has about 400 incinerators for treating medical waste. Most have been in operation since 2000, he said.

“In 2012, MONRE set a standard for industrial incinerators. However, none of the incinerators for medical waste meet the standard,” Nga told the newspaper.

He expressed deep concern about dioxin pollution as many of the incinerators were near residential areas.

PLA firing range poses a threat to planes using Hong Kong’s proposed third runway

Danny Lee

Planes performing emergency manoeuvres will have to avoid two major obstructions

A firing range used by the PLA and police poses a hazard to planes that would use the third runway at Chek Lap Kok, a government source has told the Post.

A plane approaching the runway needs a certain amount of airspace in case it needs to abort the landing at the last minute.

Frequent firing by troops at the Castle Peak site, which sits under an escape-route flight path earmarked for the planned new runway, threatens to reduce such airspace and limit the number of planes that can land.

The skies above Castle Peak are designated a no-fly zone under 914 metres during security exercises, which are often held from Monday to Friday throughout the year. Planes will have to climb much steeper to avoid the no-fly zone, increasing the risk of the manoeuvre.


Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the government’s airport consultants, recommended relocating the firing range, known as “Danger Zone 5”, in 2008. They said the third runway would risk being little used otherwise.

A Civil Aviation Department source said the government remained open to its consultant’s warning and that the firing range could be moved before the third runway was completed – but this would mean the PLA having to cede control of a key resource.

“The missed approach procedure [aborting the landing] has been operating smoothly since its implementation and an effective communication mechanism is also in place with the firing zone and the PLA,” the source said. “We are considering all possible options and will take necessary action during detailed procedure design.”

However, the department’s official response insisted it would comply with UN aviation safety rules when planning the third runway and that Hong Kong’s existing two runways managed to operate aborted landings above the danger zone “safely and efficiently at all times”.

But the consultants say there is not enough space for planes to safely climb over Castle Peak and the firing range with the third runway in place. If a jet attempted to fly above the firing range, it would need to climb at a minimum gradient of more than 10 per cent, which NATS branded as “operationally unacceptable”.

Seven per cent is considered the maximum limit.

In a worst-case scenario, aircraft aborting a landing would enter the firing range at a height as low as 526 metres.

“If NATS says it has to be addressed, it has to be, otherwise that [escape] procedure cannot be used, which will affect the airport capacity,” said former department chief Albert Lam Kwong-yu. “But first the PLA must agree to remove it.”

Castle Peak, at 583 metres, is itself a concern, particularly as a broadcasting tower atop the mountain extends it to 590 metres. Consultants said the tower would need to be removed.

Michael Mo Kwan-tai, the spokesman for the Airport Development Concern Network, said the newly created missedapproach flight path “is clearly very close to” to the danger zone.

“The broadcast tower would become a threat if the firing zone isn’t relocated,” Mo said, because planes would have to avoid two major obstructions in close proximity. A senior air traffic controller in Hong Kong said: “I can’t see how the firing range survives.”

Consultants carved out the escape route after assuming airspace would be merged with the Pearl River Delta and the firing range would be deactivated.

Planes landing on the third runway from the west are projected to have to pivot hard left and follow a missed-approach path that squeezes between Castle Peak and the danger zone.

The Hong Kong Airline Pilots Association warned that older aircraft were not capable of such manoeuvres.

The PLA did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Source URL (modified on Apr 13th 2015, 8:10am):