Dust pollution exceeded permitted levels by Long Thanh Airport construction
The construction site of Long Thanh Airport in Dong Nai Province has been deemed one of Vietnam's most notorious sources of dust pollution, with excessive amounts exceeding all permitted levels several times over. Upon inspection, it was found that the situation had become dire.
Estimating a total value of VND336.63 trillion (USD14.2 billion), the Long Thanh airport is envisioned as a modern, efficient facility that can accommodate up to 100 million travelers and five million tons of freight annually. By 2025, once fully operational, the airport anticipated to supplant HCMC's Tan Son Nhat as Vietnam's preeminent and busiest airfield.
Regular inspections by Dong Nai Department of Natural Resources and Environment over a three-month period uncovered that dust pollution at the site was between 1.02–18.32 times greater than allowable levels.
The construction commenced in January this year and its hazardous dust pollution has adversely impacted the local community and posed a serious risk to health. The problem with construction sites like this is that they generate a vast array of harmful pollutants, including fine and coarse dust, which can reach levels high enough to cause serious lung problems. These particles are especially harmful because they are both large and small enough to lodge deep in the lungs, where they can cause long-term damage.
Nguyen Ngoc Thuong, director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, declared on Saturday that his office had communicated this matter to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. He recommended that they carry out their own inspection as per environmental regulations at the location.
The department has been vocal about the pollution figures and urged the Airport Corporation of Vietnam, its project investor, to take remedial action. Yet despite their efforts, they have encountered difficulties. Furthermore, locals' reactions have been quite unfavorable which further complicate matters.
In its environmental assessment report, approved by the Ministry of Environment in 2019, the project investor proposed a number of measures to mitigate dust pollution during construction such as fencing off their construction area; dampening down materials storage areas; and employing light transports or limiting to night time; efforts like these will hopefully contribute towards an improved ecosystem.
"The dust is only bad in the dry season when we speed up construction with more than 1,800 vehicles and machines operating at the same time, we hope people understand,"
Do Tat Binh, deputy general director of ACV, acknowledged that all contractors must take meaningful steps to abate air pollution while carrying out site clearance operations; however the inevitable accumulation of dust cannot be avoided during this phase.
He affirmed that site clearance is anticipated to be close to 70 percent complete by March, when the construction area will be reduced and the dust issue resolved.