Formosa offers $500 mln to compensate Vietnam for catastrophic environmental damage

By VnExpress   June 30, 2016 | 02:30 am PT
Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa has apologized to Vietnam and pledged to pay $500 million in compensation for the environmental pollution it caused in central Vietnam.

The apology and compensation were announced on Thursday after the Vietnamese government confirmed in a briefing that wastewater released by the Formosa Steel plant was the main reason for the mass fish deaths in four coastal provinces.

On June 29, seven representatives from Formosa had apologized to Vietnam before 50 local government officials and scientists in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Hanoi. The Taiwanese company pledged to:

- Compensate local people for economic losses, help them find new jobs and subsidize clean-up activities.

- Rehabilitate the marine environment in the four central provinces.

- Fix its sub-standard wastewater treatment system.

- Work with Vietnamese authorities to set up reasonable measures to protect the environment in central Vietnam to avoid similar environmental incidents and restore the trust of the Vietnamese people and international friends.

- Fully implement the commitments and not to repeat violations in environmental pollution.

Part of the wastewater treatment system of Formosa Ha Tinh. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

Part of the wastewater treatment system of Formosa Ha Tinh. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

In early April, large quantities of fish washed up dead near the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh Province. The disaster stretched 200 kilometers along the central Vietnamese coast, as far south as Thua Thien-Hue, resulting in the death of more than 70 tons of sea fish and 35 tons of farm-raised fish.

Especially hard hit were Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Quang Binh and Thua Thien Hue provinces where thousands of fishermen lost customers or were forced to sell at a loss.

Later than month, Formosa’s deputy chief in Hanoi Chou Chun Fan caused public outrage in an interview with VTC television.

“Sometimes in order to win something, you have to lose something. It’s impossible to build a steel plant here and keep fish stocks in the surrounding area high at the same time,” he said.

Formosa representatives subsequently fired Fan and apologized to the public for the above statement. 

The $10 billion Formosa Ha Tinh Steel is the first steel furnace investment project by Taiwan in an overseas market.

Currently, Formosa Plastics Group's subsidiaries, such as Formosa Plastics Corp., Nan Ya Plastics Corp., Formosa Chemicals & Fiber Corp. and Formosa Petrochemical Corp., hold a 70 percent stake in the Vietnamese project.

China Steel Corp., the largest steel maker in Taiwan, and Japan's JFE Steel Corp., own a 20 percent and a 5 percent stake, respectively.

Construction of the Ha Tinh complex started in December 2013. In addition to the steel production facility, the project will include port and power plant construction, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.

Related news:

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Formosa steel firm puts off operation in Vietnam amid mass fish deaths

Formosa tries to justify mass fish deaths in central Vietnam

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