According to the state-run Vietnam News, inspectors from the Environmental Protection Department visited hundreds of manufacturers, industrial zones, industrial parks, handicraft villages and shipbreaking yards across the country.

They found that 80% of those surveyed did not carry through on their promises to protect the environment, the paper reported.

Inspectors have fined 288 businesses and workshops violating laws on environmental protection, totalling VND 730m (US$ 43,452) and asked local authorities to fine a further 130 enterprises.

Deputy head of the department Nguyen Hoa Binh told a media briefing many firms did not carry out regular environmental inspections.

Less than half had built wastewater treatment systems – and only 19.5% of them were the right quality to prevent water pollution.

Only a small number of businesses and workshops received the inspectors’ approval for toxic waste treatment.

Of 12 shipbreaking yards inspected in Hai Phong City, six had violated regulations on environmental protection or toxic waste management. None had a wastewater treatment system.

According to local media reports, another shipyard in the coastal province of Khanh Hoa is now under investigation over allegations it has been illegally dumping toxic chemicals and other industrial waste.

About 60 tonnes of waste from the Hyundai Vinashin shipyard is said to have been buried near a kindergarten.

Provincial police have closed down the operations of a waste disposal company known as the Three-Nine-Four Veterans which is said to have an agreement with Hyundai Vinashin to dispose of its waste, newspapers reported.

Vo Duc Than, head of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Environmental Office, told reporters the case was “very serious” and there was enough evidence to press charges.

Kate Martin

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