Vietnam demotes top pollution inspector for Formosa toxic spill

By Ha Trung   June 21, 2017 | 10:01 am GMT+7
Vietnam demotes top pollution inspector for Formosa toxic spill
Formosa steel factory is seen in Vietnam's central Ha Tinh Province. Photo by Reuters

The Taiwanese steel plant has restarted operation a year after the disaster as officials said it has met environment requirements.

Vietnam’s environment ministry has demoted its chief inspector for lax oversight that allowed Taiwanese Formosa’s steel plant to discharge toxic waste in a devastating disaster in April last year.

A source from the ministry said Luong Duy Hanh, the chief inspector of the Vietnam Environment Administration, has been reassigned to a new job as a legal assistant.

The Communist Party's inspectors have found that Hanh was negligent when he led a team of inspectors to check the construction and trial runs of the plant in Ha Tinh Province in 2015.

In February, Hanh was also censured by the Party for the enviornmental disaster, together with 11 former and active officials of various levels, including the retired environment minister Nguyen Minh Quang.

Vo Kim Cu, a former Ha Tinh leader, last month was ejected from the legislative body, the National Assembly.

The pollution, first reported in April 2016, has been named the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history. It has devastated sea life and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism.

The toxic spill polluted 125 miles of coastline in Ha Tinh and three nearby provinces. The plant in June last year agreed to pay $500 million in compensation.

The environment ministry said the affected region might need a decade to completely recover from the incident, while experts predict the disaster may set Vietnam’s economy back for years.

Environment officials allowed the plant to restart operations in late May, saying it had met all environment requirements.