Fishermen Again Protest in Central Vietnam Over 2016 Toxic Spill Payout

Fishermen from Van Dong village in Quang Bin Province say they were short-changed in compensation scheme.

Vietnamese gather in the capital Hanoi to protest a deadly toxic waste spill in April 2016 that killed fish and made people jobless, May 1, 2016.

About 100 mostly fishermen from central Vietnam’s Quang Binh Province have held three days of protests over what they say is inadequate compensation for lost livelihoods caused by a toxic waste spill that occurred along the country’s central coast in April 2016, a priest from the village told RFA.

The fishermen from Van Dong village in Quang Hai commune were affected by the spill that polluted more than 125 miles of coastline along four coastal provinces, including Quang Binh, killing an estimated 115 tons of fish and leaving fishermen and tourism industry workers jobless.

Two months after the spill, Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group acknowledged it was responsible for the release of the chemicals from its massive steel plant located at the deep-water port in Ha Tinh province’s Ky Anh district.

The company voluntarily paid U.S. $500 million to clean up and compensate those affected by the spill, but the slow and uneven payout of the funds by the Vietnamese government has prompted ongoing protests.

“Quang Hai Commune has made a list of people who were to be compensated but for some reason many people who are victims are not included in that list, while many others were not adequately compensated,” said Nguyen Thanh Tinh, the lead priest of Van Don parish.

He said the government had determined that the fishermen of the village should receive 140 million dong (US $6,200) in compensation for losses due to the Formosa spill, but received 100 million from the communal authorities.

“That’s why they have been protesting for 3 or 4 days,” Tinh said. About 100 fishermen joined the protest, slowing traffic on a bridge in the village, he said.

“They have spoken to the authorities about the problem but the provincial level officials said if there is anything wrong, it should be the responsibilities of the communal authorities while the communal level officials insisted that they did the right thing,” said the priest.

Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh, who is overseeing the government’s compensation process for those affected by the Formosa disaster, said in June 2017 that all payments would be issued by the end of that month.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Emily Peyman. Written in English by Paul Eckert.