The parish is in an area affected by the 2016 environmental catastrophe caused by a plant owned by the Formosa Plastics Group. In Kỳ Thịnh, where 85 per cent of the residents earn a living from farming, the land is contaminated. Two years after the disaster, many villagers are still struggling to find work and support their families. The pastor noted several cases of illness due to water contamination.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The Parish of Dũ Yên, in the northern diocese of Vinh, has an ambitious plan to build a water tank to collect and conserve drinking water for 10,000 people, Catholics and non-Catholics.
The large diocese covers some of the poorest provinces: Nghe An, Quang Binh and Hà Tĩnh. Living conditions are harsh, and the per capita income is $US$ 420 per year.
Some 32.16 per cent of the 1.3 million residents live below the poverty line, 87.9 per cent in rural areas. Every community in the diocese is engaged in pastoral outreach to help the poor and marginalised.
Located in the municipality of Kỳ Thịnh (Kỳ Anh district), the Parish of Dũ Yên serves the territory hit hardest by the environmental catastrophe caused by a plant owned by Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group in 2016.
Water contaminated by toxic waste has left coastal fishermen out of work and polluted farmland. In Kỳ Thịnh, 85 per cent of the local population of 10,000 (including 3,500 Catholics) is involved in agriculture.
Two years after the disaster, many people in the village are still struggling to find work and support their families. The lack of drinking water has made their situation worse.
" Kỳ Anh district is the epicentre of the disaster caused by Formosa. It is the worst place,” said Fr Peter Nguyễn Văn Tâm, vicar of Dũ Yên. “For this reason, I want to build a clean water reservoir in the municipality of Kỳ Thịnh, for local Catholics and non-Catholics."
"At present, the air and water of the whole district are fouled,” he added. “The Quyên River is now owned by the Formosa. They let wastewater pour into the river before it reaches the sea. Here they also built a thermal energy plant to power the Formosa plant. Everything is polluted."
Fr Nguyễn Văn Tâm is very concerned about the future of the local population, most of whom are being forced to emigrate. Although he has been the local pastor for only three months, he has already visited 600 families, finding several cases of diseases due to water contamination.
Speaking about his plan, Fr Peter said: "We would like to take water from the mountain, which is a few kilometers from the parish. We will build a reservoir of clean water for 10,000 people to use, drink and cook with clean water to avoid diseases."
Last week, the bishop of the diocese of Vinh, Mgr Paul Nguyễn Thái Hợp, approved the project. Now Fr Peter hopes to get support from Vietnamese Catholics and non-Catholics to go ahead.