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  • » 07/01/2016, 13.39


    Hanoi admits Formosa Plastic Group responsible for environmental disaster, will pay damages

    After three months of investigation, the government blames steel maker for tonnes of dead fish and marine pollution. The company will pay US$ 500 million in compensation. For activists and dissidents, this is not enough given the damage to millions of people who need long-term help. The authorities too are responsible.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastic Group is responsible for an environmental disaster that caused 70 tonnes of fish to wash in central Vietnam, with dire consequences for the local population.

    A three-month government probe confirmed what people knew all along, namely that one of the company’s steel plant was discharging every day some 12,000 cubic metres of wastewater through a sewage pipe into the sea.

    Initially, the Formosa Plastic Group had denied responsibility for the fish kill, citing the US$ 45 million it spent upgrading waste-water treatment at the plant.

    Vietnam’s head of the Government Office, Mai Tien Dung, told a news conference yesterday that Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp. will pay US$ 500 million to compensate the affected people, clean up the environment and help fishermen find new jobs.

    About five million people live in Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Hue City and Quang Trị provinces. With the loss of the fishing industry, many find themselves impoverished, their main livelihood gone. Although there is no definitive data, many people have been poisoned by eating tainted fish as well.

    For months, the Church and civil society groups have criticised the government for delaying the investigation, for failing to protect public health, and for violent repression of peaceful protests.

    A visit by Caritas in the most affected areas shows how bad the situation is for fishermen and their families.

    For some, Formosa’s admission is not enough though. Critics note that the government has not made public the contract that granted the company some 2,000 hectares of land and over 1,200 hectares of water surface. For the next 70 years, the company will pay 4 cents per square metre.

    “All things considered, 0 million is not enough,” said Le Huy Ba, the former director of the Institute for Environment, Science, Technology and Management, at the Institute of Industry in Ho Chi Minh City.

    “They have to compensate for millions of people who live along the coast, offering them help in life for a long time, not just two or three months,” he added.

    Famous Catholic blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh remained critical of the government, saying the disaster was compounded by Hanoi’s complicity with the steel company.

    “They repressed people and detained environmental protesters,” he said. “Everything just tells us the truth behind this, so even though the government announced the cause of the mass fish deaths and solutions, I think it is just an action amid the public pressure. I don’t have much hope in the announcement.”

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    See also

    12/05/2017 14:03:00 VIETNAM
    Catholic media launch appeal for Vietnamese priests defamed by the government

    Fr. Đặng Hữu Nam and Fr. Nguyễn Đình Thục support protests against the government for failing to distribute compensation from a company responsible for one of the most serious environmental disasters in the country's history. The Catholic Mass Media Federation in a statement: "Immediately stop terrorist acts against the priests of Thuận Nghĩa." "With our total confidence in God, we are in communion, we share and accompany the victims of the disaster." "We call upon international bodies to accompany us in the fight for human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam."

    16/05/2017 15:47:00 VIETNAM
    Authorities crack down on activists fighting for Formosa victims

    Hoàng Đức Bình will be detained for 90 days. He was with Fr Nguyễn Đình Thục, one of the two priests denounced by the government. Hundreds of people gathered to demand Bình’s release. The Catholic Church supports local grievances and is the victim of government reprisals. Catholic activist Thái Văn Dung is wanted by the authorities.

    28/09/2016 16:44:00 VIETNAM
    Formosa Plastics Group pollutes river after polluting sea

    Government authorises plant to dump effluent into Quyên River, which provides a livelihood to tens of thousands of people. For days, residents have demonstrated in a peaceful manner to stop the decision. Redemptorist Fr Đặng Hữu Nam has taken thousands of families, Catholic and non-Catholics, to sign a petition against the plant.

    20/12/2016 14:37:00 VIETNAM
    Advent in Vietnam, the Church close to the poor and the disabled

    Mgr Leopoldo Girelli, non-resident papal representative to Vietnam, visited the sick and the disabled in Hanoi. Following his example, the local Caritas, religious congregations and hundreds of student volunteers organised charity activities for the downtrodden, including providing basic necessities to Hà Tĩnh fishermen, the most affected by the Formosa Plastics Group disaster.

    01/06/2017 16:14:00 VIETNAM
    As blast hits newly reopened Formosa Plastics plan, Catholics continue to be threatened and attacked

    The plant is responsible for a huge environmental disaster that destroyed marine life and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of fishermen. The latest incident, caused by congestion in the dust filter system of a lime kiln, comes less than two days after the plant was re-opened. Catholics in Vietnam’s central provinces are targeted by Vietnamese authorities. Phú Yên and Van Thai parishioners are attacked, 25 injured. Insults and projectiles are thrown at a prayer vigil in Van Thai church. A military drill is used to intimidate.

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