Written by: Nguyen Thi Kieu Oanh
Vietnam now is growing at a very high pace, and Vietnamese as well as foreigners are embracing this growth. However, an increasing number of new construction projects in urban zones that are troubling people living in the surrounding areas. As project developers and contractors do not strictly respect construction regulations and environmental protection regulations of Vietnam, building sites may cause much damage to the surrounding citizens. So being aware of your rights and what actions you can take to stop these problems is discouraging when you face this matter.
BLawyers Vietnam would like to share underneath the legal elements around noise pollution, and how we apply Vietnam laws for supporting a client dealing with the noise pollution from her neighbor’s noisy home renovations that had last over a few months.
Permissible limit of noise and noise pollution
Article 116 of Law on Construction Law of 2014 and Article 35.1 of Decree No. 59/2015/ND-CP are legal documents governing obligations of construction contractors. Among others, construction contractors must take precautions to protect the environment “including anti-dust, noise control, waste treatment and construction site cleanup”.
This obligation is further reinforced in rural zones where all must be done to ensure that site construction “do not produce dust, heat, noise, vibration, and light beyond environmental standards” (Article 73.3 of Law on Environmental Protection 2014). Thus, this duty of best efforts is turned into a duty to achieve a specific result when the activity is conducted in an urban zone. Contractors must not only take precautions to decrease noise pollution but do everything possible to prevent the site from making it.
Any sound above 85dB can damage people’s hearing, and tools used in a construction site range between 85 to 120 decibels (at close distance). Pursuant to National technical regulations on noise and vibration (of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment), in urban areas the noise level limits are as provided:
- For noise, the permissible limit is 70dB in maximum from 6:00 to 21:00; and 55 dB in maximum from 21:00 to 6:00;
- For vibration (from breakers, drills, etc.), the maximum limit is 75dB from 6:00 to 21:00, and at base level (i.e. there should be no vibration inconveniences on the construction site) from 21:00 to 6:00.
Effective ways to deal with noise pollution
If you are facing such noise pollution in an apartment building, you could firstly find an amicable solution with related parties. The very first step is to address this matter with the construction contractor or your landlord (if the landlord is the one carrying out work that make noisy).
You can take a lot of proof on noise and other effects of the activity (videos, photos, etc.) and send to related parties. You should send those evidence by email to keep a record of the sending. It is good if the amicable solution does not resolve the issue.
Then, you could submit complaints with all evidences to seek the support from local People’s Committee (PC). Why is the PC but not the Police Agencies? Because the Police Agencies is not legally competent to deal with the trouble of noise pollution. For example, if you live in HCMC, lodge the complaint to the PCs of city, district and ward.
Of note, all documents sent to Vietnamese administrations are Vietnamese language, and the complaint submission written in Vietnamese as well. You can ask your home-country Consulate for help, they can raise their voice on asking Vietnamese authorities to take care of your submitted complaints.
The effective point is each competent PC have a construction inspection team. Such team can inspect construction sites, work with the party causing the noise and apply measures to lower noise pollution. It can also make fines up to VND320,000,000 (~USD13,600) and make suspension of the violating party’s business operation for one year.
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