Ho Chi Minh City authorities have suspended operations at the leather manufacturer for seriously polluting the Dong Dien River, a tributary of the Dong Nai River, in the Nha Be district.

The Committee instructed the department to coordinate with the relevant departments to immediately check any violations from Hao Duong in all areas, especially environmental violations. They will present their findings and punishments will be given to the company if they are found in breach.

According to a report prepared by HEPZA, Hao Duong did not submit an environmental impact assessment to local authorities. Its untreated wastewater has a concentration of pollutants 22 times higher than allowed levels.

Last week, the city government fined the company VND340 million ($160,000) for causing pollution, including the discharge of untreated wastewater from an effluent treatment plant into the environment.

The HEPZA report says Hao Duong owes more than VND640 million ($303,000) in environmental protection fees from February 2008 to March 2010. It has also used water from the Dong Dien River for production without permission.

The Committee has now ordered immediate implementation of environmental controls and a thorough and complete repair of environmental damage caused by the tannery. The department is due to report back by November 15.

According to local media reports in Vietnam, Hao Duong Leather Tanning Joint Stock Company has repeatedly been dumping untreated wastewater into the Dong Dien River despite being warned and fined several times. It is affecting the health of local residents, and raising much public concern.

The Hao Duong Leather Tanning Company is located in a 60,000 sq m site in the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park and operates four factories that process about 55 tons of leather per day.