The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

More on the Garbage Crisis in Mui Ne

I received this message from a friend:

"I've just read with interest your recent blog on the beach pollution crisis. I am still unsure whether the source of the problem is due to the growth of tourism or the lack of care from the local fishermen or perhaps even some other reason. According to my casual conversation with the locals, the pollution is seasonal relating to the ocean currents. It has always been here even before tourism. The interesting part is that the individuals that I spoke to believe that the local fishermen are only partly to blame as much of the rubbish arrives from other areas outside Vietnam.

I am curious about your thoughts and possible solutions."

My Response:

Yes, the locals are right that it’s seasonal. The currents and wind changes direction over the course of the year, blowing the garbage one way or another (into the beach here, or out to Khe Ga). The problem I see now though, is that there is such a large volume of it being pumped into the bay that it is no longer being washed out, and it’s all getting trapped here. I see it as a combination of things—the fishermen and locals dumping trash in Mui Ne, the resorts dumping waste water in Ham Tien, and the city of Phan Thiet dumping garbage in the Ca Ty River and Phan Thiet bay. It occurred to me today that I know the city like the back of my hand, yet I’ve never seen a city garbage dump—I’m sure because it all goes in the bay. That’s a scary thought. I’m sure the garbage comes from many places, but when you sit beside the Ca Ty river and watch the constant flow of garbage floating out to the bay, I think it’s safe to say locals are responsible for most of it.

I think the solutions are probably pretty simple. They need laws to ban dumping garbage with serious fines. They need to ban plastic bags altogether like China. The local government needs to enforce the law requiring resorts to have waste water treatment plants, and stop penalizing the 3 resorts that actually do obey the law. They also need to develop a legitimate garbage dump and waste treatment facility for the city.



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