Environmental Management in Ports in Vietnam and Cambodia

Research, Completed

VUB internal funding.

Seaports are major hubs of economic activities, however, at the same time, they are major sources of pollution. Seagoing ships, heavy-duty trucks going to ports and port industry cause degradation of seawater and port atmosphere, and impact on human health. The impacts range from risk of illness, such as respiratory disease, to cancer. This is only one example of the effects of pollution present in port areas.

With the increasing economic activities between continents, seaports are likely to expand in order to accommodate greater cargo volumes. In Vietnam, the number of seaports increased from 40 seaports in 1999 to 100 in 2002 and this number is planned to increase up to around 114 in 2010. In Cambodia, there is only one deep-water seaport at present and a number of river ports along the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac Rivers.

This research entails a comparison of five ports in Vietnam and Cambodia. Three of these ports are located in Vietnam (Hai Phong, Da Nang, Vung Tau) and two ports are situated in Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville). The three Vietnamese ports are large ports with average annual tonnage throughputs range from roughly less than 1.5 million tonnes to more than 14 million tonnes.

All three ports are also major hubs for passenger transit. In Cambodia, the Phnom Penh port is a river port with an average annual tonnage throughput of less than 1 million tonnes and which serves more than 50,000 passengers a year. The port of Sihanoukville, though the only deep-sea port in Cambodia, has an average annual throughput of less than 2 million tonnes.

Although being different in size and scale, ports in Cambodia and Vietnam are all facing emerging environmental problems related, among other things, to ship discharges (bilge, ballast, and sewage), oil spill (bunkering), heavy traffic and noise.