Making news

Japanese organisation willing to fund Hanoi river clean-up

The Japan Environment and Business Organisation (JEBO) has said it is willing to pay all costs to clean the heavily polluted To Lich River and West Lake in Hanoi following a remark by an environment official saying the firm's sewage treatment technology had failed.

The organisation, which was behind a pilot project to clean up the river and lake this summer, said it is prepared to pay in full for the treatment technologies and will rent them to Hanoi authorities once they were proved to be successful.

Hanoi would then take charge of the management and operation of the cleansing system, JEBO said.

JEBO, in coordination with the Japan-Vietnam Environment Company (JVE), kicked off a pilot project in May to clean a short section of To Lich River and part of West Lake using Japanese nano-bioreactor technology.

The project run for three months before being wrapped up with a stunt when a project member immersed himself in the filtered water from the river to prove the success of the project in August.

However, Le Van Duc, Director of the Hanoi Department of Construction which oversees the capital’s sewage system, said JVE had been invited to carry out the pilot project in the capital city but “it failed”.

The comment sparked a protest from JEBO, which claimed on December 1 that what the construction director said was “baseless”, and “opposite to the conclusion by the municipal People’s Committee”.

The To Lich River has been a symbol of environmental pollution in the capital for decades despite several efforts to save it since the 1990s.

The blame has been placed on the 150,000 cubic metres of raw sewage released daily into the 14km-long river, according to statistics by the municipal Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Apart from the Japanese project using nano-bioreactor technology to remove contaminants, Hanoi authorities were also working on two other solutions to clean the river.

One was to build a system to collect the sewage which would then be transferred to the Yen Xa wastewater treatment plant. Construction of the system, however, has lagged behind schedule and won't be ready until 2021.

The other solution was to treat the water chemically using Redoxy-3C, a strong oxidizer which can degrade almost all inorganic and organic impurities in water. It has already been used in 87 lakes in Hanoi since 2016.

The Redoxy-3C treatment, however, was being inspected following complaints over a lack of transparency in Hanoi’s purchase of the chemical. The city Inspectorate was due to release the inspection report on July 15 but so far nothing has been published.

The city inspector chief Nguyen An Huy told reporters on December 4 morning that the inspectors were still in the middle of the work and would announce the conclusion as soon as it was available.