Fishermen demand compensation, medicals after mass fish deaths

By Hoang Tao   July 8, 2016 | 05:15 am PT
The victims of one of Vietnam's worst environmental disasters are praying that life will return to normal.

More than 100 fishermen in the central province of Quang Binh have asked for medical checkups after Taiwanese steel plant Formosa admitted discharging toxic waste into the sea, causing massive fish deaths that have badly affected four coastal provinces in central Vietnam.

Local authorities in Canh Duong District have received a request signed by some 100 fishermen asking for swift action to treat the pollution and provide financial support and medical checkups.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said last week the government should help people living in the affected coastal provinces to find new jobs in the wake of the mass fish deaths that have hammered local fisheries.

“We have set up several teams in different communes to gather public opinion so that we can report to the provincial people’s committees. At the same time, we have advised local residents about current policies,” said Phan Xuan Linh, chief official of the People’s Committee of Quang Trach District.

The Vietnamese government asked over 100 scientists, including many from overseas, to conduct a two-month investigation into the disaster. Their conclusion was that the Formosa steel plant, located in Ha Tinh Province’s Vung Ang Port, discharged toxic waste into the sea, causing “the most serious environmental disaster Vietnam has faced,” as labeled by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Formosa accepted responsibility and pledged to pay VND11.5 trillion ($500 million) in compensation for economic losses and to treat the pollution.

Part of the compensation will go towards helping local fishermen find new jobs.

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

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