Mekong nations to set up EIA working group

In the statement released today, the Mekong Regional Technical Working Group for EIA brings together governments, civil society organisations (CSOs), and will expand to cover private sector and EIA experts to improve regional cooperation for effective EIA policy and practices. The group aims to reduce the social and environmental impacts of regional infrastructure projects, particularly as the upcoming Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) Economic Community further hastens trans-boundary investments.

Vietnamese environment law revision lifts green ethos

Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen has urged that environmental planning must be part of the country's plans for socio-economic development.

Speaking at a conference earlier this month on a revision to the Law of Environmental Protection (2005), the Minister said the focus would create a better foundation for the implementation of environmental protection measures.

"This is a key measure to better the legal framework for environmental protection," he said.

Vietnam: Hydro projects still a big concern

This was according to Viet Nam Rivers Network member, doctor Le Anh Tuan, who said projects 6 and 6A would occupy 50ha of forest in Cat Tien National Park which was a protected area under the Law on Biodiversity 2009.

The network last Thursday called on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to review the projects.

Tuan said the projects' environmental impact assessment reports, released by investor Duc Long Gia Lai Group, remained unconvinced, including calculations on earthquake and reservoir-triggered seismicity.

Vietnam: No decision on Dong Nai 6, Dong Nai 6A plants

Dong Nai Province’s authorities earlier ruled out the plants but the investor, Duc Long Gia Lai Group, is still pushing for the projects.

Answering National Assembly (NA) deputies a few days ago, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has yet to announce a deadline for assessment and approval of the environmental impact assessment reports.

Laos Links Rail to Neighbors

Laos has inked an agreement to build a railway connecting Thailand and Vietnam, just after sealing plans for a rail link to China, in ventures that will cost a combined whopping U.S. $12 billion.

By linking the landlocked nation to its giant neighbor China and mainland Southeast Asia, officials say the high-speed rail network will help open up the impoverished and resource-starved nation to development.

Mining companies forced to bear responsibility for environment protection

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE), which is compiling the new regulations on the environment restoration after mining activities, has stated that mining enterprises must bear the responsibility for environment protection.

Hoang Duong Tung, Deputy General Director of the Environment Directorate of MONRE, said when opening the draft regulation to the public that the legal document needs to be built up in the way, so that mining enterprises cannot reject their responsibilities in protecting the environment.

U.S. starts its first Agent Orange cleanup in Vietnam

The United States and Vietnam on Thursday began cleaning up the toxic chemical defoliant Agent Orange on part of Danang International Airport, marking the first time Washington has been involved in cleaning up Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The U.S. military sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant onto Vietnam's jungles over a 10-year period during the Vietnam War, and the question of compensation for the subsequent health problems is a major post-war issue.

Respiratory cancer and birth defects amongst both Vietnamese and U.S. veterans have been linked to exposure to Agent Orange.

Vietnam Prepares Draft Guidelines on Contaminated Soil Monitoring

On November 29-30, 2011, Vietnam hosted a regional consultation meeting in Hanoi joined by counterpart officials from Korea, Malaysia and Thailand to share ideas on a draft technical guideline on contaminated soil monitoring. At the consultation meeting, experts shared lessons learned and recommendations based on implementation challenges and success in their respective countries. As for the next steps, Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will finalized the technical guidelines and explore opportunities to continue their twinning partnership with Korea.