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Environment Minister: Central region seawater now safe

Released at: 16:16, 16/11/2016

Environment Minister: Central region seawater now safe

Photos: Duc Anh/VGP

Water now safe for tourism, sports and fishing following pollution incident in April.

by Ha Nguyen

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha confirmed on November 16 that water in certain central provinces is “safe for tourism, sports and fishing.”

Speaking at the National Assembly’s ongoing Q&A session, Minister Ha said that such activities can be conducted in waters in central provinces damaged by the environmental pollution incident caused by Formosa’s steel mill back in April.

Taiwan’s Formosa Iron and Steel Mill at the Vung Ang Industrial Zone in north-central Ha Tinh province was identified on June 30 as being responsible for polluting coastal waters and killing dozens of tons of fish.

The mass fish deaths were first reported on April 6, when large numbers washed up ashore in Ha Tinh province. The deaths soon spread south along the coast, to Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue provinces.

Formosa accepted responsibility and agreed to pay $500 million in compensation as part of a five-point package of commitments after apologizing to the Vietnamese Government and the people.

“Now, at this NA session, I can confirm that based on scientific analysis, the seawater in these provinces is safe and tourism, sports, and fishing can be conducted normally,” Minister Ha told the NA session.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) will not evade its responsibility in the incident and the final results from a review within the ministry will soon be released to the public, he added.

He also noted that the Ministry of Health (MoH) is still reviewing the quality of seafood in these localities. “I believe that MoH will announce their results shortly,” he said.

Minister Ha also assured NA delegates that Formosa has re-committed to guaranteeing the steel plant will operate for the long term at the utmost level of safety.

The ministry has also designed marine environment monitoring systems in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue. If Formosa is yet to sign contracts with capable waste treatment companies, its waste will be stored together with industrial and hazardous waste, the minister said.

In co-ordination with Ha Tinh authorities, MoNRE is accelerating the building of waste treatment facilities at registered firms. “Formosa was also asked to seek partners to turn pulverized fuel ash into construction materials,” he said, adding that the company has invited well-known global consulting firms to help with changing manufacturing and treatment technologies so as to fully prevent further risks of pollution.

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