Vietnam will criminalize heavy polluters following mass fish deaths: PM

By    June 10, 2016 | 10:47 pm PT
The Vietnamese government will criminalize discharge of toxic substances to the environment, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday at an event to enhance the relationship between the business community and the media.

“For the discharge of pollutants [in such quantities and concentration] that cause serious damage to the country, or offences against the society that kill people, we need to file criminal charges against those cases,” said the Prime Minister.

Vietnam is still trying to handle the mass fish deaths which have hard hit the country’s central coast provinces, killing a huge amount of fish at both aquatic farms and in coastal waters.

The phenomenon was first recorded two months ago in the central province of Ha Tinh. Fish raised in farms near the province’s Vung Ang Port were found dead on April 6, with more subsequently washing up on local beaches.

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

Suspicion has centered on Formosa - a Taiwanese steel company in the Vung Ang Economic Zone which has installed a wastewater pipe going out at sea. A few days before the fish started washing up, the company had flushed the pipe for cleaning. About 300 tons of imported chemicals that the company used are believed to be extremely hazardous.

As of April 25, around 70 tons of fish had reportedly washed up in these provinces.

The government admitted that it has been too slow to respond to the incident due to a lack of experience.

Vietnam has asked international experts to help local scientists and government agencies to determine the cause for the fish deaths.

Earlier this month, at a government’s press conference, Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan said scientists have identified the cause for the mass fish deaths and the government will make the investigation findings public later this month.

Last month, a sugar factory was blamed for causing a mass fish deaths in the northern province of Thanh Hoa after having illegally discharged untreated wastewater into the river. Local aquatic farming suffered huge financial losses as more than 18 tons of fish were killed and at least 34 farming households were badly affected.

Related news:

Mass fish death cause identified, results yet to be announced

Thanh Hoa authorities confirm pollution as cause of mass fish deaths

Vietnam too slow to act on mass fish deaths: Government office

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