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CEO dismisses environmental concerns over Taiwan paper mill in southern Vietnam

Friday, November 25, 2016, 15:09 GMT+7

The chief executive of a Taiwan-invested paper project in Tien Giang has directly addressed allegations that his facility may pollute one of the most important waterways in the southern province and Mekong Delta.

Chiang Ming Jui, CEO of the Dai Duong Vietnam Co. Ltd., the developer of the namesake paper mill in Tien Giang’s Long Giang Industrial Park, rushed from Taiwan to Vietnam immediately following the negative comments directed at the company’s plan.

Dai Duong Vietnam Co., a subsidiary of Taiwan’s Chang Yang Holding, obtained the investment license for the US$220 million project in April.

Assoc. Prof. Le Trinh, head of the Institute for Environmental Science and Development, said in a petition earlier this month that the Dai Duong project should be stopped over fears that its wastewater will be discharged into the Tien River, affecting millions of households who depend on the waterway.

The 250-kilometer long Tien (Front) River and 200-kilometer Hau (Back) River are the two most important waterways in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

The Hau River is also under threat from another paper mill run by Hong Kong’s Lee & Man Paper.

CEO’s defense

In an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Chiang said he understands the concerns over pollution from Vietnamese authorities, scientists and the public, but asserted that the paper mill project in Tien Giang presents little ground for those fears.

The CEO said the company’s board of directors has insisted that no paper plant will ever be built by the company at the expense of the local environment, and the Dai Duong project will stick to that policy.

Chiang asserted that developer specifically chose the most modern wastewater treatment technology despite its cost in order to ensure adherence to environmental regulations.  He also acknowledged that it is the company’s responsibility to prove that their project will do no harm to the local surroundings and the Tien River.

According Assoc. Prof. Trinh’s petition, the paper making process requires a number of chemicals for production and wastewater from the process contains various hard-to-treat toxic materials.

Among those toxins are organic chlorides such as dioxin, which can be absorbed by fish and other aquatic animals before they are served at the dinner table.

While Chiang agreed that producing paper from pulp may cause pollution, he reassured that the Dai Duong plant only uses scrap paper as its raw material, rather than wood pulp and the sodium chloride used to bleach it.

CEO Chiang Ming Jui

The CEO pressed that the company is serious in its bid to meet all environment requirements from the Vietnamese government and is committed to staying pollution-free once the plant is commissioned.

Asked on which ground the company can be so sure they will not pollute the environment, Chiang said their wastewater treatment system is expected to cost $4 million in the first phase alone, enabling them to treat wastewater better than some other paper plants in the country.

Despite these reassurance and assertion, the developer has yet to have an environmental impact assessment approved by Vietnam’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

Chiang said the company is having a Ho Chi Minh City-based consultant prepare the environmental impact assessment and is expects to submit the results for approval later this year.

The CEO, acknowledging that Vietnam has grown more cautious toward approving new projects that may affect the environment in the wake of the Formosa scandal in central Vietnam, reiterated that the company’s view is to take business effectiveness and environmental protection equally serious.

The Dai Duong paper mill is expected to produce four types of paper, including the double-ply Duplex and Kraf paper from scraps, with a total capacity of 175,000 metric tons a year in its first phase.

The developer has leased as many as eight land plots, spanning a total of 227,530 square meters in the Long Giang Industrial Park, to build its plant.

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