The Ho Chi Minh City municipal administration has issued a VND6.39 billion ($300,330) fine on a particularly negligent tannery in what is deemed to be the most severe punishment ever imposed on a polluter in the country.
The city's Department of Natural Resources and Environment proposed the penalty against Hao Duong Company following years of untreated and toxic wastewater into Dong Dien River in Nha Be District. Between January and October last year alone, the city found, they pumped more than 437,000m3 of untreated sewage into Dong Dien.
The fine is inclusive of almost VND4.4 billion ($206,800) that the company saved by eschewing waste treatment.
According to a contract with Hiep Phuoc Industrial Zone in Nha Be District, Hao Duong, which produces around 24,000t of leather a year and discharges around 2,500m3 of sewage a day, was allegedly supposed to pay the zone's treatment plants VND10,050 for every cubic meter of sewage it treated. Officials said they never treated any of its waste, exceeding legal limits ten-fold, it's claimed.
Hao Duong executives were given ten days to pay the penalty and clean up the area, and the city government has threatened to send task forces to enact harsher measures, such as seizing machines, if it fails to comply with deadlines.