PM orders wastewater from Taiwan's Formosa steel project to be monitored

By Đức Hùng, Toan Dao   May 3, 2016 | 11:31 am GMT+7
PM orders wastewater from Taiwan's Formosa steel project to be monitored
Selling fish by the sea. Photo by Tran Quy/VnExpress Photo Contest.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the provincial government of Ha Tinh to set up a monitoring station to evaluate wastewater discharged from the Formosa steel plant.

The station will automatically take and analyze samples from Formosa’s discharge pipe and connect to existing stations managed by Ha Tinh’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, according to a government statement released on May 3.

The ministry and Ha Tinh have also been told to compile a report for the prime minister on how Formosa received permission for its wastewater pipeline and the method in which it is monitored. The report must clearly clarify the responsibilities of related agencies and personnel, the statement added.

Phuc asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and municipal governments across the country to carry out environmental inspections, especially on heavy industrial projects, with priority given to coastal areas.“It is not permitted to discharge wastewater into the sea without prior monitoring as defined by environmental regulations. Wastewater that may affect the sea must be closely monitored,” the government said.

Food tests

Vietnam's Administration for Food Safety and Hygiene Department (AFSH) and the National Institute for Food Control took 12 samples of fish, shrimp, crab, cuttlefish and other seafood taken from the Ky Nam fishing port in Ha Tinh’s Ky Anh town on April 28. Analyses have shown that the levels of heavy metals, pesticides and cyanide in the samples are within the permitted limits.

Phan Van Hung, head of the AFSH unit in Ha Tinh, told VnExpress the province has established a working group to analyze samples from fishing ports in the province on a daily basis.

Since early April, about 70 tons of sea fish in the provinces of Ha Tinh , Quang Binh , Quang Tri and Thua Thien - Hue have died en masse of an unknown cause. On April 27, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said there are two possible reasons for the mass fish deaths.

One is toxic chemicals released by human activities. Another is an abnormal natural phenomenon that causes algae in the water to bloom at an accelerated rate, commonly known as a “red tide”.