Vietnamese Look at Steel Company as Officials Search For Fish Kill Cause

2016-04-25
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A man walks among dead fish lying on a beach in Quang Trach district in the central coastal province of Quang Binh near the Formosa steel plant that is under attack for industrial pollution,  April 20, 2016.
A man walks among dead fish lying on a beach in Quang Trach district in the central coastal province of Quang Binh near the Formosa steel plant that is under attack for industrial pollution, April 20, 2016.
AFP

Vietnamese authorities are investigating a Taiwanese steel company in connection with a massive fish kill that is threatening the local seafood industry, according to media reports.

Huge numbers of fish have washed ashore in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces. The dead fish that have been washing up on beaches along the country's central coast include rare species that live far offshore in deep water.

The kill-off is apparently caused by industrial effluent, and state-run media coverage says the government is focusing on a mile-long waste water pipeline that runs from a multi-million-dollar steel plant in Ha Tinh owned by Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa.

“The mass fish deaths are due to serious pollution,” Vien a retired history teacher in Ky Anh district of Ha Tinh province told RFA’s Vietnamese Service. “There was no pollution before…. Everything is ruined now. The peace in this countryside has been disrupted.”

A fisherman named Sot from Hai Lang in Quang Tri province told RFA that local leaders were telling their people to avoid eating fish, and that even the fisherman worried about the catch.

“The fish were washed onshore, but the government has not found the cause,” he said. “The village chairman told us not to eat fish because it is dangerous. We can’t go fishing because we can’t sell fish anymore. Even if we can sell it we don’t want to because it is wrong.”

A tour bus operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the growing fear of seafood to RFA.

“Because of the fish deaths, people don’t want to eat fish, and the fishermen don’t go fishing anymore,” he said.

The fish kill puts Vietnam’s traditional fishing industry in conflict with the country’s push to become an industrial power. Last year, the country earned $6.6 billion from seafood exports. In 2012 Vietnam earned an estimated $5 billion from steel exports.

Central Ha Tinh province is home to a sprawling economic zone which houses numerous industrial plants, including a multi-billion dollar steel plant run by Formosa.

A company official this week said local communities need to consider whether they value marine life or foreign investment in the area more, AFP reported.

"You cannot have both," Chou Chun Fan, Formosa Ha Tinh's external relations manager told state-run VTC14 television channel, speaking in Vietnamese, according to the AFP report.

"(You) need to choose whether to catch fish and shrimp or to build a state-of-the-art steel mill," he said, according to a video of the interview posted online.

The report also said that Formosa had imported some 300 tons of toxic chemicals to clean the waste-water pipeline, a shipment the Vietnam Environment Administration said it was not informed of. The report did not say whether the chemicals had been used.

Tuoitnews reported that the company was notified that the Ministry of Industry and Trade will inspect the plant on Tuesday.

Reported by RFA Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

Comments (3)
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Hate Communist

from ghet bac Ho

Agreed with the 2 previous posts. Hence, we can't be silence or look away on these issues. Way too many years we have allowed this for we are too trusting in the government. VN can't move forward or prosper with the current 'ruling class of thugs and murderers! We can't let them do this to the good people of VN. Let's the spread the truth about democracy and freedom; of which we have (on/off) for 4K years. I don't want to think that mine and yours ancestors died for nothing. They were patriots and freedom fighters. These traits must be told to the people of VN. The men and women that fought against communism under VNCH era are and were all that. Long live VNCH.
VNCH was buried but isn't dead. Communism is dead but hasn't being buried!

Jan 17, 2017 04:27 PM

duc

from saigon

Sooner or later VietNam will become a Wasted site for Chinese dumping toxic wastes.

Apr 26, 2016 08:49 AM

Jackle

from Oregon, USA

This is a price must be paid for power and money of VNese communist party to ruin the nation and its people. The VNese communist party has to take resposibility for what they did to Vietnam for many decades of their rule.

Apr 25, 2016 11:34 PM

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