Vietnam yesterday said a US$10.6 billion steel plant run by a unit of Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC, 台塑) caused an until-now mysterious environmental crisis by releasing toxic wastewater into the sea.
Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp (台塑河靜鋼鐵興業), which has built a new plant set to become the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia, on Tuesday admitted responsibility for a disaster that caused massive fish deaths in coastal provinces in April, head of the government office Mai Tien Dung said.
The spill sparked public outrage across Vietnam and three successive weekends of protests, with demonstrators venting their fury at both Formosa and the government, accusing them of a cover-up.
Formosa had apologized and would provide US$500 million in compensation for those affected by the disaster, Dung said.
“Violations in the construction and testing operations of the plant are the causes for serious environmental pollution, killing a massive amount of fish,” Dung told a packed news conference. “Formosa has admitted responsibility for the fish deaths in four central provinces and committed to publicly apologize for causing severe environmental incidents.”
Formosa yesterday said the company respects the Vietnamese government’s probe and blamed the misconduct on oversight by its construction contractors in Vietnam.
The company expressed regret over the incident in a statement, saying it would work with the Vietnamese authorities to compensate the damage done to Vietnamese and solve the pollution issue.
The Ministry of Economis Affairs’ Department of Investment Services said it respects the agreement reached between Formosa Ha Tinh Steel and the Vietnamese government.
“We have contacted the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs right after the release of the government’s investigative report this afternoon,” department Director-General Vivien Lien (連玉蘋) said by telephone, expressing the hope that the event would not affect the relations between Taiwan and Vietnam.
Lien said the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security has promised the Taiwanese representatives in Vietnam that it will ensure the safety of Taiwanese in the nation following the incident.
Formosa’s steel plant is among the largest investments by a foreign company in Vietnam.
In April, the media reported that chemicals from a drainage pipe had killed fish, but a preliminary investigation by Formosa and a separate investigation by the Vietnamese government found there was no direct link between the steel plant and the deaths.
The initial government probe concluded the cause was either toxic discharge caused by humans or “red tide,” when algae bloom and produce toxins.
The incident sparked a crisis for the administration of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who took office days after dead fish started washing up along a 200km coastline on April 6.
Additional reporting by Ted Chen and Lauly Li
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of
GOOD NEWS: Although open civic spaces are shrinking in Asia-Pacific countries and territories, Taiwan’s openness is a positive sign, an expert said Taiwan remains the only country in Asia with an “open” civic space for the fifth consecutive year, the Civicus Monitor said in a report released yesterday. The People Power Under Attack 2023 report named Taiwan as one of only 37 open countries or territories out of 198 globally, and the only one in Asia. Compiled by Civicus — a global alliance of civil society organizations dedicated to bolstering civil action — the ranking compiled annually since 2017 measures the state of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression around the world. Researchers assign each country or territory one of five rankings describing the