A Chinese plant has already been given permission to dump a million cubic meters of mud in the area.
A power company in Binh Thuan Province is seeking permission to discharge mud from its coal-fired power plants into the sea area near a marine reserve.
Power Generation Corporation 3, or EVNGENCO 3, a subsidiary of Vietnam’s sole power utility Vietnam Electricity (EVN), wants to dump 2.4 million cubic meters of mud into a zone that is only ten kilometers from the Hon Cau Marine Protected Area on the south central coast, according to local media reports.
Le Trung Hieu, a company representative, said the company needs to dredge the mud so that 100,000-ton coal barges can reach three EVN thermal power plants in Binh Thuan.
The request comes shortly after public concerns were raised over an environment ministry decision to allow the Chinese-invested Vinh Tan 1 Power Company to dump nearly one million cubic meters of mud from a coastal thermal plant into the sea off Binh Thuan, just five kilometers from the area proposed by EVNGENCO 3.
According to environmental experts, the mud will cover the seabed and kill most of the creatures that live there, as well deprive seaweed and coral of sunlight.
A ministry official told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Saturday that no such request had been received by the ministry from EVNGENCO 3, while the company said it would strictly follow regulations to keep the environment safe.
In the case of Vinh Tan 1, the ministry had ordered the company to install nets to prevent the waste from spreading, and close down the operation immediately if there are any signs of adverse impacts to the environment.
But experts say the ministry should not have given the green-light for a dumping ground just eight kilometers from a marine reserve.
Vo Si Tuan, director of the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute, said the institute has already had to remove 10,000 coral bushes from the area where Vinh Tan 1 will dredge.
He said the coral would have lived but would not have flourished, so removing it was the last resort.