Chopstick, toothpick workshops polluting Hoa Binh’s river


In Phu Thanh commune, there are dozens of chopstick, toothpick and pulp workshops located along the Ma River. The waste water from the workshops, after the production process, goes directly into the river. No local agency is in charge of supervising the waste treatment and waste discharge of the workshops.

When asked why they have not reported the situation to the local authorities and asked for their help, a local resident said that they dare not.

“Most of the workshops here are owned by local people. And most of the workshops have operation licenses granted by local authorities. It’s no use complaining,” he explained.

“We have got used to living with pollution for many years,” he said. “Fortunately, we have clean water for daily use from the national clean water supply program. If we used the river water, we would die.”

It is very easy to find waste transmission pipelines in the locality. At Bao Yen, a big pulp and chopstick production establishment in Phu Thanh commune, one can see a lot of pipes laid across the road. The pipes have the “function” of transmitting the waste water from Bao Yen’s two workshops to local streams, from which it goes to the Ma River.

In the Xia stream area, which is near a pulp workshop belonging to Van Mai commune, several reporters noticed bubbly, smelly water flowing to the Ma River

Such pulp workshops are numerous in the area. A local resident said in order to clear area for the workshops, people throw soil and stones into the river, encroaching on dozens of meters of the river bed.

“The river has become more narrow, while the current has been blocked,” he said. “The river is becoming quite different from it was in the past”.

“What will happen if severe floods come?” he asked.

The man’s question remains unanswered. When reporters came to the head office of the Phu Thanh people’s committee, they saw the doors locked.

The reporters were told that 15 commune officials were sent to a training course to learn about new legal documents.

Meanwhile, Trinh Duc Du from the Quan Hoa district’s environment sub-department, at a meeting with reporters, said that no workshop discharged waste water to the environment.

He also said that producers were able to obtain operation licenses only if they promised not to discharge waste water directly into the environment.

In the case of Bao Yen, Du said the establishment had just received an operation license and its managers needed more time to fulfill necessary procedures.

When reporters showed Du the pictures and video clips with the images of the workshops discharging waste water to the environment, he explained that these workshops were set up without licenses.

“The workshops are located in the border area of Thanh Hoa and Hoa Binh provinces. Therefore, we do not have the right to intervene in these cases,” he said.


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