Toxic disaster from Taiwanese company affects 200,000 people: Vietnam gov't

By Vo Van Thanh   July 28, 2016 | 07:40 pm PT
Toxic disaster from Taiwanese company affects 200,000 people: Vietnam gov't
Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung
Around 41,000 fishermen to receive compensation in August.

The toxic pollution caused by the Vietnam unit of Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group in Ha Tinh Province has hit at least 200,000 people, including 41,000 fishermen, where it hurt most: their pockets.

In a report sent Thursday to deputies attending the ongoing session of the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, the Vietnamese government said that around 18,000 fishing boats with some 41,000 fishermen and over 176,000 people dependent on them have been affected by the incident.

Authorities estimate that seafood catches have fallen 1,600 tons per month, according to the report. 140 tons of fish, 67 tons of oysters and 16 tons of shrimp died as a result of the disaster, it said.

The disaster has also exacted a heavy toll on tourism in the four central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Quang Binh, and Thua Thien Hue.

About half of the tourists who had booked trips to those provinces canceled, and the occupancy rate at hotels in the provinces fell by 40-50 percent from the same period in 2015. In Ha Tinh where the Formosa steel plant is located, the occupancy rate dropped to 10-20 percent.

Locals in four of Vietnam’s central provinces who have been affected by the pollution caused by Taiwan's Formosa steel plant in Ha Tinh are expected to be compensated next month, the report said. But it stopped short of how the compensation will be allocated.

In late June, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel admitted its $10.6 billion steel plant was responsible for the mass fish deaths that plagued the central coast. The company apologized to Vietnam and pledged to pay $500 million in compensation for the environmental disaster that it caused.

The Taiwanese firm promised to compensate local people for economic losses, help them find new jobs and subsidize clean-up activities. It also pledged to rehabilitate the marine environment in the four central provinces, fix its sub-standard wastewater treatment system and work with Vietnamese authorities to protect the environment in central Vietnam.

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

The government is set to release an environmental damage report next month. Initial estimates, however, have shown that about 450 hectares (1,112 acres) of coral reefs have been directly affected. 

The country has also had to deal with social, political and security issues generated by the incident.

Related news:

Formosa catastrophe takes toll on tourism in Vietnam province

Where Formosa buried its waste

Formosa in trouble again for dumping industrial waste

go to top