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Vietnam Today

Formosa given stern warning

Released at: 19:55, 25/07/2017

Formosa given stern warning

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc (front, third from right) inspects the waste treatment system of Formosa on July 24 (Photo: VNA)

Government will close steel mill if toxic spill reoccurs, company told.

by Quang Huy

The Vietnamese Government will direct Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group to close its steel mill in north-central Ha Tinh province immediately if another toxic spill occurs, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told a meeting with the Formosa Hung Nghiep Steel Corp. (FHS) on July 24.

A toxic leak from the steel mill caused Vietnam’s worst environmental crisis last year, killing tons of marine species along the coastline of four provinces and making thousands of fishermen and other local people jobless.

“We are firm that we will not tolerate any further incidents and have asked the investors to safeguard the environment,” the Prime Minster said.

He asked FHS to apply advanced technologies and modern equipment in its production line in order to fully address any violations in terms of both machinery and social responsibility. “No operations are allowed if they are unsafe,” he noted. “I want to make it clear that if any violations reoccur, the mill will be shut down.”

According to a report presented at the meeting, FHS has dealt with the aftermath of the toxic spill, fixing 52 out of the 53 basic environmental violations and installing a modern environmental treatment system. The most crucial item, the dry coking system, will not be fully installed until June 2019.

An FHS executive said the company will add another $1 billion to the plant to bring its total investment to $11.6 billion, making it the largest closed-loop steel mill in Southeast Asia. The company trial ran its first blast furnace and steel-rolling factory on May 29 and has turned out nearly 200,000 tons of steel products since.

Regarding compensation for affected households, PM Phuc said the government would continue to allocate resources to create the best possible conditions for local people in affected localities to resume production and other activities.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) reported that as at last October, FHS had completed the installation of waste treatment facilities and automated wastewater and exhaust fume observation facilities that meet national standards. 

On the environmental safety front, “one year after the incident in the four central provinces, the results show that the coastal environment (including sea water and marine sediment) has stabilized and is safe for aquaculture, aquatic conservation, and water sports,” a representative from MoNRE said.

In April last year, following the pollution incident in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien Hue provinces, MoNRE worked with relevant ministries, experts, and scientists to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the extent, scope, and evolution of marine pollution and its causes.

By September 2016, with the control of emissions from the FHS steel plant and the natural cleansing mechanisms of the environment, the presence of pollutants had fallen. Since then, the four provinces have continued to implement periodic overall monitoring and monitoring of the marine environment at 19 beaches.

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