Vietnam threatens to shut down Formosa

By An Hong   July 2, 2016 | 12:07 pm GMT+7

The Vietnamese government has warned Taiwanese steel maker Formosa not to ever again leak toxic waste into the sea, otherwise, the plant shutdown would be inevitable, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a government cabinet meeting yesterday.

Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics, has admitted that it had caused massive fish deaths along a 200 kilometer stretch of coastline in central Vietnam last April.

The steel factory on Thursday offered a public apology to people who have been either directly or indirectly affected by one of the biggest environmental disasters to have struck the country.

In a video message, the chairman of the $10.6 billion steel plant asked for forgiveness. "We deeply hope Vietnamese people can be generous," Tran Nguyen Thanh said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc emphasized that if Formosa will ever again leak toxic waste into the sea, it will definitely be shut down, the Vietnam News Agency reported today.

“We have put up a fight methodically and scientifically with concrete proof so Formosa had no choice but to take responsibility [for the mass fish deaths] and accept to pay the compensation,” said the Prime Minister.

vietnam-threatens-to-shut-down-formosa

A video clip shows Formosa Ha Tinh Steel president Chen Yuan-cheng offering an apology to the Vietnamese Government and people at a press conference on the recent situation of fish deaths in Vietnam's central province, in Hanoi, Vietnam June 30, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Nguyen Huy Kham

The Vietnamese government is pondering how it will use $500 million that Taiwanese steel maker Formosa has promised to pay.

The Prime Minister said that the government will use the money to help people in affected central provinces to find new jobs and earn a living.

Fishermen will find it easier to get access to bank loans at low annual rates of between 1 percent and 1.5 percent, said the Prime Minister, so that they can build boats for offshore fishing.

In addition, the authorities will assess how the disaster has affected local people in four coastal provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue to calculate total damage to be compensated. 

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has asked the government to help fishermen receive vocational training so that they can find new jobs or go overseas to work under labor export programs.

The mass fish deaths started in April in the central province of Ha Tinh, about 400 kilometers south of Hanoi.

Farmers began to find fish dead on April 6 at aquatic farms near Ha Tinh Province’s Vung Ang Port. More dead fish were subsequently found washed up on nearby beaches.

The problem quickly spread to the provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien – Hue along a 200km stretch of coast.

The mass fish deaths have reportedly devastated local fisheries, disrupted people’s lives and hit local tourism in the area.

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