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    The Government on May 13th, 2019 issued Decree No. 40/2019/ ND-CP amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Government’s Decrees which stipulate in detail the implementation of the Law on Environmental Protection (LEP). Accordingly, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) issued Circular No. 25/2019/TT-BTNMT guiding in detail the implementation of a number of articles of the Decree No. 40/2019/ND-CP and prescribing the management of monitoring services. The Circular shall come into force since February 15th, 2020.

   The Circular consists of 7 chapters, 40 articles and 6 Annexes that specify the content of the strategic environmental assessment (SEA), environmental impact assessment (EIA), environmental protection plan and environmental rehabilitation and restoration in the course of mineral mining; environmental protection in importing scrap as production materials; provision on the list of environmentally friendly products and services; criteria for selection and appraisal of municipal solid waste treatment technology (MSW); closure of municipal solid waste landfills, environmental quality management; management of monitoring service activities and report on environmental protection performance.

 

Monitoring of municipal solid waste landfills after closure following the regulations

 

   The Circular has new provisions on the EIA report. Accordingly, at least ten experts shall be consulted on EIA reports of projects with large discharges prescribed in Appendix IIa while the consultation requires no less than three experts in the case of other types of projects. Furthermore, it also requires to gather professional organizations' opinions on the accuracy of the models to be applied to specific types of projects, including projects of which investment policies are decided by the National Assembly or the Prime Minister causing a potential risk of sedimentation, erosion or saline intrusion; projects of submerging dredging material into the sea with a total volume of 5 million cubic meters of material or more; projects with industrial wastewater volume of 10.000 cubic meters per day and night or above (except for the cases in which wastewater generated being connected to the concentrated wastewater treatment systems and wastewater in aquaculture projects); and projects with emission volume of 200,000 cubic meters per hour or above.

   There are a number of changes after the EIA report is approved. The previous regulations pointed out that any changes in the EIA report might be accepted by the competent agency in charge of approving the EIA report. Under the new Circular, in case of an increase in size or capacity or technology changes, the owners of facilities, industrial parks or projects shall notify the competent agency for approving such changes or re-compile EIA reports. In other cases, the owners of facilities, industrial parks or projects shall decide themselves. They are not required to notify the competent agency and shall take legal responsibility for their decision.

   Regarding the monitoring of waste during trial operation of waste treatment works of projects or facilities, the Circular prescribes composite samples as well as monitoring and evaluation during the period when the performance of each stage is adjusted and during the period when the operation of wastewater and emission treatment work is stable. Accordingly, during the former period, the sampling shall be carried out at least once every 15 days for at least 75 days. The minimum number of sampling days is five.  Monitoring parameters of each treatment stage are the main ones used to serve the design at each stage. During the period of stable operation of wastewater treatment works and dust and emissions treatment works, the sampling shall be undertaken at least once a day within 7 sequential days. It also requires at least one sample of input wastewater and at least 7 samples of output wastewater, dust and emissions. If the sequential measurement, collection, and analysis of samples might not be carried out due to force majeure, they shall be measured, collected and analyzed on the next day. The monitoring parameters shall comply with technical regulations on wastewater. For the project or facility that made a plan for trial operation of waste treatment work before February 15th, 2020, the project owners and facility owners are only responsible for monitoring waste during the period of stable operation, not the period when the performance of each stage is adjusted.

    The Circular promulgates techniques for works on prevention and response to incidents caused by wastewater if the project owner adopts the technical solutions (building tanks to contain wastewater) as prescribed in Clause 6, Article 37 of Decree No. 38/2015/ND-CP which is supplemented in Clause 19, Article 3 of the Decree No. 40/2019/ND-CP. In addition, the owner of the project, facility or industrial park shall, according to the characteristics and loading rate of the wastewater flow, propose other technical solutions to the competent authority to operate works on prevention and response of incidents, ensuring the compliance with relevant technical requirements and the plan on prevention and response to incidents.

   The provisions on the selection of criteria, appraisal, and announcement of municipal solid waste treatment technologies are also stipulated. The evaluation of technologies for municipal solid waste treatment shall be based on their compliance with requirements for environmental protection and regulations on technology transfer. According to the results of confirmation of completion of environmental protection works, the MONRE shall promulgate, update the list of municipal solid waste treatment technologies and publish it on the MONRE’s website. At the same time, the Circular prescribes procedures for a shutdown of a sanitary municipal solid waste landfill, including identification of the subject, monitoring of the environmental state after the shutdown, conditions for reuse of the landfill and the responsibilities of the owner of the landfill.

    When it comes to environmental quality management, the Circular regulates the monitoring, assessment and announcement of the surface water and air quality status; investigation, assessment and warning of environmental quality; determination of the degree, scope and causes of contamination, and soil improvement and remediation. Accordingly, water and air quality indicators must be posted on the web portal of competent State management agencies. The preliminary investigation or assessment is carried out to investigate or assess the site to determine and announce whether or not the site is polluted.  Contaminated sites shall be classified into 3 following levels: low-level environmental contamination; medium-level environmental contamination; and high-level extremely severe environmental contamination. Any organization or individual that is confirmed as the one that causes environmental contamination shall carry out detailed site investigation and conduct environmental decontamination, improvement and remediation plan and report the results to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment or provincial People's Committee.

   Previously, the owner of project and facility had to prepare many periodic reports on environmental protection, namely report on periodic environmental monitoring, report on automatic environmental monitoring, report on municipal solid waste management, report on normal industrial solid waste management, report on hazardous waste management, report on imported scrap management, and report on results of environmental monitoring and restoration in the course of mineral mining. As a result, there is a significant number of overlap information between these reports.  Under the new Circular, owners of the project, and manufacturing, trading, and services facilities only have to elaborate a periodic report on environmental protection activities according to the prescribed regulations, and then submit it to competent authorities before January 31 of the following year. The first report shall be submitted before January 31st, 2021. The new environmental protection report shall contain the following contents: environmental monitoring and supervision; management of wastewater, solid waste, hazardous waste and imported scrap; environmental rehabilitation and restoration for a mineral mining project. Furthermore, the owners of projects and facilities are not required to submit documents related to environmental protection reports. Such relevant documents are archived to serve the inspection work by competent authorities when needed. These new provisions aim to implement the policy of reforming and simplifying administrative procedures. On the other hand, project owners who invest in technical infrastructures of industrial parks shall carry out the reporting regime in accordance with regulations on environmental protection in industrial zones.

    The new Circular also stipulates the registration of environmental testing activities; responsibilities of the providers of environmental monitoring services after the certificate is obtained; and the management of environmental monitoring services provided by secondary monitoring units. Specifically, applicants for registration of testing services in conformity with environment sector and certification of eligibility for provision of environmental monitoring services may choose to follow administrative procedures for issuance of the certificate of registration of testing services in conformity with environment sector and certificate of eligibility for provision of environmental monitoring services under regulations on single-window system promulgated by the MONRE.

   Every provider of environmental monitoring service shall archive physical or electronic documents about environmental monitoring services it provides to serve the inspection work. As for providing environmental monitoring services, if the provider signs service contracts with customers, such contracts shall have the provider’s unique signs and the date of the contract shall be clearly stated. The signs shall contain ordinal numbers indicating the date on which the contract is signed in chronological order in a calendar year. Results shall be returned to customers via test reports bearing the signature and seal of the competent authority. The test reports shall be prepared in accordance with relevant regulations. In case of environmental monitoring services provided by secondary monitoring units, sample transfer records shall be included in the documentation of environmental monitoring service providers and secondary monitoring units.

 

Lê Thị Minh Ánh

Vietnam Environment Administration

(Nguồn: Bài đăng trên Tạp chí Môi trường số Chuyên đề Tiếng Anh I/2020)

 

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