Vietnam to close steel plants that don’t meet environmental standards: Deputy PM

By Anh Minh   September 8, 2016 | 09:06 pm PT
Vietnam to close steel plants that don’t meet environmental standards: Deputy PM
A man climbs on steel packages at Hoa Phat steel mill in Hai Duong province, Vietnam June 14, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Vietnam is the largest steel producer and consumer in Southeast Asia.

The mass fish deaths caused by a giant Taiwanese steel plant Formosa and the chain of following incidents involving environmental violations have raised the alarm in Vietnam.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said at a meeting to discuss the country's steel industry that: “[We will] strictly handle [violations] or even halt operations at any steel plant that can’t meet environmental standards.”

Dung also asked local authorities to follow technical and environmental standards when issuing investment licenses and gradually eliminate small steel enterprises with outdated technology that pose a threat to the environment.

The official highlighted Vietnam’s steel production rose by 21.8 percent in 2015 from 19.8 percent the year before, making Vietnam the largest producer in Southeast Asia.

The country also became the largest consumer in the region with on-year increase of 26.4 percent in steel consumption, followed by the Philippines at 19.6 percent and Singapore at 4.8 percent, according to the Vietnam Steel Association.

However, this impressive growth has resulted in environmental problems.

In April, waste discharge by Taiwanese steel plant Formosa killed off tons of fish along a 200 kilometer stretch of coast in four central provinces, affecting the livelihoods of 41,000 fishermen and over 176,000 people dependent on the industry.

Despite public concerns over the negative effects steel plants can have on the environment, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has recently given permission for Hoa Sen Group, Vietnam’s largest sheet steel producer, to build a $10-billion plant in the southern coastal province of Ninh Thuan.

The plant will have double the capacity of Formosa, producing about 16 million tons of steel per year, which even surpasses Vietnam’s total output of some 15 million tons in 2015.

Speaking with VnExpress, Vice Chairman of Hoa Sen Le Phuoc Vu admitted they have yet to obtain an investment license from the government.

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