Mon, Dec 18, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Formosa fined in Vietnam for burying waste

AFP, HANOI

Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團), which caused a toxic spill that killed tonnes of fish in central Vietnam last year, was fined a second time for illegally burying “harmful” waste, official sources said yesterday.

The deadly dump from Formosa’s US$11 billion steel plant in Ha Tinh Province sparked one of the nation’s worst environmental catastrophes, decimating livelihoods along swathes of coastline and prompting months of rare protests in the authoritarian country.

Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp (台塑河靜鋼鐵) was initially fined US$500 million for pouring toxic chemicals — including cyanide — into the ocean in April last year, and has now been ordered to pay an additional US$25,000 on separate charges of burying harmful solid waste, the Vietnamese Supreme Court’s official Cong Ly newspaper reported.

A local contractor is also to be fined US$20,000 for helping dispose of the 100m3 of waste, the paper added.

A provincial official confirmed the latest fine, without providing further details.

The waste was buried in July last year and local residents reported seeing trucks ferrying the material to a farm belonging to the contractor hired to dispose of it.

Police confirmed the waste came from Formosa and launched an investigation last year.

Officials would not comment on why it took more than a year to issue the nominal fines.

The toxic spill set off angry demonstrations against the company and the government in the one-party state that routinely jails its critics. Several activists have been arrested and convicted for their involvement in the protests, including a 22-year-old blogger who was last month jailed for seven years.

Formosa’s huge steel plant, which was under construction at the time of the disaster, was in April given a green light to resume operations after officials found it had addressed dozens of violations. Several officials were punished or fired after the disaster, which saw beaches littered with fish, including large offshore species.

Vietnam has been accused of ignoring environmental concerns on its march toward rapid development, although the issue has become central for some groups on social media.

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