Formosa Vietnam steel mill meets conditions for test runs a year after spill

By Reuters/My Pham   April 5, 2017 | 02:37 pm GMT+7
Formosa Vietnam steel mill meets conditions for test runs a year after spill
A woman carries fish on the beach of Dong Yen fishing village, which is next to the Formosa factory, in Vietnam's central Ha Tinh Province March 31, 2017. Photo by Reuters

The Taiwanese fish killer will still require approval by Vietnamese government before it can go ahead with tests of its first blast furnace.

Formosa Plastics Corp's steel mill in Vietnam has met environment ministry conditions to start test runs, state television said on Wednesday, a year after a toxic spill from the plant caused the country's worst environmental disaster.

State-run Vietnam television VTV said the ministry announced the conclusion after a three-day inspection visit of the Taiwanese company's plant. It will still require approval by the government before it can go ahead with tests of its first blast furnace.

A year ago, the $11 billion Ha Tinh Steel plant accidentally spilled toxic waste that polluted more than 200 km (125 miles) of coastline, devastating sea life and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism.

Formosa has addressed 52 out of 53 violations identified in an official investigation into the spill, VTV cited the ministry as saying.

The remaining violation was its use of a "wet" coking system, which generates more waste than the more modern "dry" coking systems which do not use water as a coolant but are more expensive.

A release of water from the wet system after a power failure was the cause of the spill. The company is expected to put in place the new coking system by 2019.

Formosa last month said it would boost investment by about $350 million in the project to improve environmental safety measures with the hope of starting commercial production by the fourth quarter of this year.