Vietnamese officials rebuked in Formosa's pollution disaster

By Duc Hung   December 5, 2016 | 11:22 pm PT
Vietnamese officials rebuked in Formosa's pollution disaster
Toxic spill from Formosa plant in Ha Tinh Province affected many fishermen in central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung.
The officials have been held responsible for toxic waste discharges that killed tons of fish earlier this year.

The government of Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam has reprimanded several senior officials for their responsibility in a toxic spill disaster which killed tons of fish earlier this year.

An official from Ha Tinh's environment police division and another, who is in charge of environment impact assessment at the province’s environment department, were punished for failing to detect waste discharge violations at Taiwanese steel firm Formosa.

Three other local officials were reprimanded for Formosa's illegal burial of solid waste.

In Vietnam, there are four levels of punishment for misconduct by official members: reprimand, warning, demotion and expulsion.

An estimated 70 tons of dead fish washed ashore along more than 200 kilometers of coastline in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue Provinces in April.

The Vietnam unit of Formosa Plastics was held responsible for the mass fish deaths, as government’s inspection found the company had discharged waste containing phenol, cyanide and iron hydroxides into the sea.

It created a seafood scare across the country and hit tourism in beach towns, harming the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people, including 41,000 fishermen.

The company’s pollution did not stop there. In July, it was caught dumping around 260 tons of untreated dry waste at different spots in the province. The environment ministry found exceeding amount of cyanide in some of the waste samples.

Vietnam’s government has accepted Formosa’s $500 million compensation for the sewage pollution, and has opened a criminal probe into the solid waste scandal.

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