Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團), the nation’s largest industrial conglomerate, paid half of the compensation for pollution apparently caused by a steel mill the group operates in central Vietnam, an official from Vietnam said on Saturday.
Vietnamese Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Tran Hong Ha said in a televised meeting held by the nation’s parliament that FPG paid US$250 million in compensation on Thursday last week for the damage inflicted by the pollution, and the other half of the compensation is expected to be paid on Aug. 28.
He said that the government placed the first payment in a single bank account and would distribute the funds to the victims of the pollution and also use the funds to clean the toxic waste discharged by FPG’s steel complex, Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp (台塑河靜鋼鐵興業), located in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh Province, central Vietnam.
After massive protests were staged across Vietnam over the pollution released by FPG’s operations, the Taiwanese conglomerate apologized in public on June 30 for the damage and promised to pay US$500 million in compensation.
FPG’s steel complex was found to be discharging pollutants, which killed fish along a 200km stretch of coast in the nation.
The Vietnamese government said that FPG has admitted responsibility for the pollution, the most serious environmental incident in the nation in a decade.
According to an estimate, the pollution caused more than 40,000 Vietnamese fishermen to lose their jobs or put them on the verge of being pushed out of the job market, while an additional 176,000 people in Vietnam have been indirectly affected by the environmental disaster.
Tran Hong Ha said the ministry has asked FPG to replace production equipment in its steel plant in Ha Tinh with more environmentally friendly devices, improve its waste water treatment facilities and adopt waste inspection equipment with a higher degree of accuracy.
The US$10 billion Formosa Ha Tinh Steel mill is the first steel furnace investment project by Taiwan in an overseas market.
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