Vietnam’s lawmakers give Taiwanese fish killer a pass

By Vo Hai, Hoai Thu   July 27, 2016 | 09:51 pm PT
The house has decided not to put the environmental disaster caused by the Formosa steel mill on the agenda.

Vietnam's legislative body has approved a resolution on its supervision program for 2017 which will focus on food safety and state administrative reforms, but failed to mention environmental issues.

This means that companies like Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics that admitted in June that it had caused massive fish deaths along a 200 kilometer stretch of coastline in central Vietnam, will not come under the house scrutiny, at least for the moment.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee said it has seen serious public concern over foreign-invested projects that pose considerable risks to the environment.

The mass fish deaths have reportedly devastated local fisheries, disrupted people’s lives and hit the tourism industry, while hammering the country’s economic growth, according to the Standing Committee.

This begs the question why have these concerns not been addressed in the this latest resolution?

The legislature decided on environmental law enforcement at economic zones and trade villages nationwide in 2012, said Nguyen Hanh Phuc, general secretary of the National Assembly, as an explanation for the fact that environmental issues and Formosa’s scandal have been left out of the 2017 supervision program.

National Assembly supervision teams drew up a plan for environmental issues in 2012 which is being implemented, Phuc said.

“For the environmental incident caused by Formosa, the government has taken swift action to find the cause and deal with the consequences,” he continued.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee has assigned its committee of science, technology, and environment to investigate and supervise the enforcement of environmental laws at industrial and economic zones in the central coastal provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, including operations at Formosa's steel factory in Vung Ang Port.

“There should be a committee fully responsible for keeping Formosa under supervision. The Formosa scandal is not just a minor environmental incident, it's a major disaster,” said lawmaker Vu Trong Kim.

The mass fish deaths started in April in the central province of Ha Tinh, about 400 kilometers south of Hanoi.

Farmers began to find fish dead on April 6 at aquatic farms near Ha Tinh Province’s Vung Ang Port. More dead fish were subsequently found washed up on nearby beaches.

The problem quickly spread to the provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien – Hue along a 200km stretch of coast.

The Agriculture Ministry said the four provinces all recorded declining coastal fisheries in the first six months of this year. Specifically, fishermen in Ha Tinh Province caught 6 percent less fish, Quang Binh 8.7 percent, Quang Tri 14.3 percent and Thua Thien-Hue nearly 30 percent.

Related news:

Vietnam threatens to shut down Formosa

Formosa apologizes for mass fish deaths, pledges compensation and changes

Formosa in Vietnam: From billion-dollar steel factory to mass fish killer

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