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Sanitary landfills

Green advisor

Improved conditions in Vietnam’s coastal resorts

Ru Ri dumpsite, operating at full capacity, was singled out by the Vietnamese government as an environmental “hotspot”.

As an uncontrolled landfill Ru Ri exhibited most of the problems that are endemic at similar unsanitary sites: uncovered or poorly covered waste; uncontrolled leachate generation and pollution of downstream watercourses; uncompacted waste mass and stability problems; landfill fires; and waste pickers scavenging the site without any protection for their health or safety.

Severely polluted urban rivers

Environmental sanitation has been an important target for improvement in Vietnam. Most solid waste is disposed of in dumps, with few sanitary landfills. While it is estimated that some 70 percent of the nation’s urban residents are served by solid waste collection systems, levels of service for the poor are significantly lower at between 10 percent and 20 percent. As a result, watercourses – especially in the big cities – are severely polluted by both liquid and solid wastes.

Three cities in focus

The Coastal Cities Environmental Sanitation Project was funded by a World Bank IDA loan and designed to bring substantial social benefits to the residents of three participating cities. An estimated 700 000 people in Nha Trang, Quy Nhon and Dong Hoi are now benefitting from improved environmental services that include wastewater collection and  treatment, solid waste management and flood protection measures.

Four key components

The new infrastructure project consisted of four main components:

  • drainage, flood control, sanitation and wastewater collection
  • wastewater treatment plants
  • solid waste management and new landfill sites in each of the cities
  • strengthening and support for project implementation including capacity building for the utility companies that will assume responsibility for operating and managing the new assets once they have been completed. 

Institutional strengthening

In the period 2011 to 2014 ÅF  took the lead role in strengthening the capacity of the Nha Trang and Quy Nhon utility service providers. The aim was to ensure that the respective company in each city is able to operate and maintain the assets under construction, together with the existing facilities, in an efficient, effective and sustainable manner. The Nha Trang Environmental Sanitation Project, with a total investment of USD 90 million, was completed on schedule at the end of November 2014.

Emergency interim solution

So keen were the local authorities to stop using the uncontrolled Ru Ri dumpsite that they sought ÅF’s advice on whether the new Luong Hoa sanitary landfill in Nha Trang could be safely operated before the scheduled July 2014 completion date for the landfill’s leachate treatment plant. After special consideration and an analysis of water management at the site, ÅF presented an interim technical solution that enabled Luong Hoa to open for operation in March 2014. By then ÅF had also completed the work of training management and staff at URENCO, the local utility company responsible for waste collection in the city, in preparation for taking over operations at the new landfill.

Day-to-day support

Once Luong Hoa commenced operations, ÅF remained on site providing assistance and practical advice on how best to manage a modern sanitary landfill. ÅF continued to provide day-today support until after the new leachate treatment plant was commissioned in the second half of 2014. Today, Luong Hoa is a fully operating environmentally safe landfill.

Safe closure of old site

ÅF also assisted with the safe closure of the old Ru Ri dumpsite, through a four-month sub-project instituted to minimise the risk of any future environmental impact. First the existing waste mass was reshaped and re-profiled. Then an impermeable geo-composite liner was laid over the whole landfill surface, with over 1.5 metre thick layer of clay and soil as capping material to prevent rainwater infiltration. Finally cut-off drains and gas vents were installed. The leachate that still flows from the decommissioned Ru Ri landfill is now diverted and also treated at the new leachate treatment plant located at the nearby Luong Hoa site.

Manuals and procedures

ÅF also assisted with the preparation of an Operation and Management Manual covering standard operating procedures to ensure that any potential negative impacts of this environmental “hot spot” will be safely locked away under its new cap.

Even after only one year, Nha Trang’s Ru Ri dumpsite has become just a distant memory.


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