A former leader of Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam was removed from the country’s top legislative body on Monday after being held accountable for a toxic spill caused by Taiwan’s Formosa steel plant a year ago.
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee voted to remove Vo Kim Cu after he filed a petition to leave due to health reasons.
The decision came less than a month after the ruling Communist Party’s Secretariat rebuked Cu and retroactively fired him from various positions as a senior Party leader in Ha Tinh between 2005 and 2015, including his role as the provincial party secretary.
He has been chairman of Vietnam’s Cooperative Alliance since November 2015.
The Secretariat’s investigation found that Cu had approved investment licenses and an illegal waste pipeline at the Formosa steel plant.
He was among 11 government, provincial and industry officials, including former environment minister Nguyen Minh Quang, who were named and shamed in February for the disaster.
In June last year, Formosa agreed to pay $500 million in compensation for the toxic spill that polluted 125 miles of coastline in Ha Tinh and three nearby provinces.
The pollution, first reported in April 2016, has been named the biggest environmental disaster to ever hit Vietnam after it devastated sea life and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism.
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.
However, environment officials last week agreed for the plant to test run a new furnace on a six-month trial period after concluding that it had fixed all violations related to environmental protection.