Formosa in trouble again for dumping industrial waste

By Duc Hung   July 13, 2016 | 08:00 pm GMT+7
Formosa in trouble again for dumping industrial waste
Ha Tinh authorities have asked for the waste disposal site to be kept intact for further investigation. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

Investigators are looking at how and why 100 tons of waste from Formosa's steel factory found it's way onto a farm in Ha Tinh.

Ha Tinh authorities have found that the Urban Environment Company (UEC) in Ky Anh District was responsible for burying over 100 tons of industrial waste released by Formosa Ha Tinh Steel – the culprit behind Vietnam’s recent mass fish kills.

UEC only specializes in providing conventional waste-treatment services. Ha Tinh's Department of Natural Resources and Environment said the contract between FHS and UEC to treat conventional waste would have been fine, but the deal to treat 100 tons of black mud since the beginning of April was a violation.

“UEC in Ky Anh District only has the capability to handle conventional waste, not industrial waste. The area where they dumped the waste also conflicts with local land-use planning. FHS was wrong to sign a contract with a company incapable of handling industrial waste,” said Pham Van Hung, head of the Environment Department in Ky Anh.

Deputy Chairman of Ha Tinh Province Duong Tat Thang said Formosa has acknowledged that the buried waste came from the factory. Tomorrow, Ha Tinh authorities will continue to work with Formosa and its sub-contractors to find out the extent of the damage, according to Thang.

"Formosa's full cooperation is vital. In principle, all parties who took part in this must take joint responsibility. We will need to clarify how Formosa has managed its waste disposal since it signed the contract," said Thang.

According to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment, UEC has transported and handled 267 tons of waste from Formosa, including 189 tons of industrial waste.  

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Tons of black mud in Ky Trinh Ward has been excavated by local authorities. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

According to Le Quang Hoa, the owner of UEC, the buried waste came from a waste-treatment facility at Formosa. The waste was harmless black mud, which can be recycled or used as fertilizer, he said.

Hoa cited a test result of the waste samples dated back in January from an Environmental Protection Branch (Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Ha Tinh).

The samples were analyzed by the Institute of Science Technology and Environment (University of Hanoi). Results showed that the waste was non-hazardous.

The contract between FHS and UEC has been suspended while Ha Tinh authorities and related agencies take samples for analysis.

Taiwanese company Formosa hit the headlines recently for causing one of the biggest environmental disasters in Vietnamese history, killing tons of fish across four coastal provinces. The company’s test-run led to the discharge of toxic substances into the sea, including phenol, cyanide and iron hydroxide.

The company has officially apologized to the Vietnamese people and promised to pay compensation of $500 million to make up for the damage.

Related news:

> Over 100 tons of Formosa steel plant waste dumped on Ha Tinh farm

> Formosa illegally changed waste-treatment technology: Vietnam minister

> Vietnam slaps polluting steel firm Formosa with $70 mln tax bill