0201 GMT December 14, 2019
Hundreds of protesters rallied in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi on Sunday to slam Formosa, a multi-billion-dollar Taiwanese steel plant in Vung Ang Industrial Zone in Vietnam’s Ha Tinh Province, over the deaths of fish along the central coast of Vietnam.
Large numbers of dead fish have appeared on beaches in the four provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien Hue since April 6.
Formosa has a 1.5-kilometer (one-mile) waste water pipeline running from its location to the ocean, raising suspicion that potential toxic leakage from it may be to blame for the deaths of the fish.
Initial government investigations have found no links between the fish deaths and the steel company’s wastes. The government has mainly attributed the fish deaths to a “red tide” — when algae blooms and produces toxins. State-run media, however, have pointed to possible leakage from Formosa’s waste pipeline.
The Vietnamese government has ordered the steel company to raise its waste pipe at the plant to enable government investigators to better monitor it.
“We know that Formosa has a history of polluting the environment in many countries. I cannot understand what the Vietnamese government and authorities were thinking on accepting such a company (to do business here),” said activist Vu Quang Thuan.
Last week, Chou Chun Fan, the public relations director of Formosa in Ha Tinh., which is a subsidiary of the Formosa Group, revealed that fish could not live around a steel factory.
“Of course, we tried to meet national standards but we have to exchange something for the project… Sometimes, we can’t have it all, we have to choose. Do we want to fish or do we want to develop a modern steel industry?” he said.
Chou Chun Fan was fired after the remarks, and Formosa managers officially apologized for his statements.
Public anger, however, had already been instigated.