Vietnam fines Formosa for messing up waste burial

By Duc Hung   December 16, 2017 | 12:34 am PT
Vietnam fines Formosa for messing up waste burial
Waste discharged by Formosa found at a farm in Ha Tinh Province in July 2016. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung
The Taiwanese steel plant was found responsible for the burial of 100 tons of waste which contained high levels of cyanide.

The Taiwanese steel plant responsible for Vietnam’s worst environmental disaster has been fined VND560 million ($24,640) for its illegal burial of toxic waste that was busted last year.

Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh, a steel production unit of the Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group, was punished for failing to separate toxic waste for the burial and hiring an authorized local company to do the job.

The company was also fined VND450 million for directly burying the waste.

The burial of around 100 tons of waste from Formosa at a local farmland was busted in July 2016. The waste was put into a hole of around 300 square meters (3,200 square feet) and one meter (3.3 feet) deep.

The environment ministry found the industrial waste contained excessive levels of cyanide.

Police in the central province of Ha Tinh launched criminal probe into organizations and individuals in August 2016. But eventually there was no criminal prosecution. Several local officials have been rebuked.

Taiwanese company Formosa hit the headlines in April last year for causing one of the biggest environmental disasters in Vietnamese history, polluting 200 kilometers (125 miles) of coastline in Ha Tinh and three nearby provinces. The company’s test-run led to the discharge of toxic substances into the sea, including phenol, cyanide and iron hydroxide which devastated sea life and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism.

The company had paid the affected provinces $500 million of compensation, according to the Vietnamese government.

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 by years.

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

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