Vietnam punishes four officials over Formosa environmental disaster

By Reuters   January 26, 2017 | 05:58 am PT
Vietnam punishes four officials over Formosa environmental disaster
This picture taken on April 20, 2016 shows a man walking among dead fish lying on a beach in Quang Trach district in Vietnam’s central coastal province of Quang Binh. Photo by AFP
None of the four was named; but they are to be transferred, face administrative action, warnings or rebukes.

Vietnam said on Thursday it would punish four officials over one of its worst environmental disasters, caused by a unit of Taiwan conglomerate Formosa Plastics, in the first action against government officials ten months after the accident.

Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, which runs an $11-billion steel plant, polluted more than 200 km (125 miles) of coastline in April, killing more than 100 tons of fish and devastating the environment, jobs and economies of four provinces.

In its first measures against government officials 10 months after the event, four environmental officials are to be transferred to other departments and face administrative action, warnings or rebukes, the government said in a statement.

"These are the officials related to the state's management responsibility," the government said on its website, blaming them for what it called "a serious environmental incident and abnormal seafood death in four central provinces".

None of the four was named, but the government said one of them, a deputy director of the General Environment Department, would be downgraded to a lower post.

After months of mystery over the cause of the fish deaths and public outrage against one of the country's largest investors, Formosa agreed in June to pay $500 million in compensation.

The affected region is expected to take a decade to completely recover from the accident, the environment ministry has said.

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