Viet Nam made progress in dealing with toxic chemicals
Ha Noi - The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organize a 4-day Training Workshop on “Stockholm Convention Implementation – International Practices” to allow Vietnamese participants to learn from and share experiences with international experts regarding Stockholm Convention implementation, environmental permits, emergency response, and new technologies for environmentally management, treatment and disposal of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and to discuss the draft of the National Implementation Plan (NIP) for Stockholm Convention Implementation in Viet Nam.The training workshop is held under the framework of a UNDP/GEF funded project entitled “Development of National Implementation Plan for Viet Nam in the process of accession, implementation and enforcement of the newly-signed Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)” VIE/01/G31.
In collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), USAID and the Ministry of Environment of South Korea/ ENVICO Corporation), the training workshop is a milestone on the path towards the implementation of Stockholm Convention in Viet Nam as the country signed the Convention on 23 May 2001 and ratified the Convention on 22 July 2002.
Effective since 14 May 2004, the Stockholm Convention seeks to save lives and protect the natural environment - particularly in the poor communities and countries – by banning the production and use of some of the most toxic chemicals, especially: Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans, and nine highly dangerous pesticides. The Convention also requires cleaning up the growing accumulation of unwanted and obsolete stockpiles of pesticide and toxic chemicals that contain POPs, and the disposal of PCBs and PCB-containing waste.
Toxic chemicals, especially agent orange links to an array of health problems including birth defects, spontaneous abortions, skin and lung cancers, low IQ and emotional problems for children. They are toxic substances that last a long time in the air, water and land. Soil contaminated with dioxin becomes river sediment, which is then passed to fish. This is a clear reminder that poisoning our environments is akin to poisoning ourselves.
Toxic chemicals and other hazardous materials are basic elements of development. Chemical pollution is mainly attributed to industrial and agricultural activities. In Viet Nam, the amount of oil possibly contaminated with PCBs could reach 19,000 tons, which mainly come from old transformers. The total hazardous waste generation in 2003 was about 160,000 tons per year, of which 130,000 tons/yr was industrial waste, 21,000 tons/yr was hazardous healthcare waste from hospitals, clinics, and sanitarium, and 8,600 tons/yr from agriculture sources. In addition, in certain regions of the country, there are persistence of dioxin and furans in soil as a result of use of as much as 72 million liters of defoliant (herbicides) during the war period 1961-1971 (Agent Orange, while, green, and purple). (Viet Nam Environment Monitor – 2004 – Solid Waste).
UNDP statement in the meeting stresses the important of having a national action plan to deal with toxic chemicals and calls for a stronger collaboration. “We believe that a partnership approach is required. There is a strong need to continue the considerable bilateral and multilateral support to ensure implementation of the Stockholm Convention. Exposures to toxic chemicals – their harmful effects to human health is global issue, a country cannot act alone in dealing with challenges posted by toxic chemicals”.
Vice Minister of Natural resources and Environment, Dr. Pham Khoi Nguyen, stresses the important of implementation and enforcement of the Stockholm Convention in Viet Nam. “Implementation of this Convention will ensure a cleaner environment for Vietnamese people and a sustainable growth for the country”. He praises the USEAP, USAID, South Korea, especially UNDP and GEF for all supports in this regard”.
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Dang Huu Cu, Public Affairs Associate
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