Friday, April 7, 2017

Formosa’s $10.5 billion Ha Tinh steel complex meets requirement to start blast furnace

The working group from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment complemented by a body of other scientists have concluded that Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Co., Ltd. (HFS), a subsidiary of Taiwanese Formosa Plastics Corp. meets the requirements for the first blast furnace to start operation.
Deputy director of MoNRE’s Vietnam Environment Agency Hoang Van Thuc announced the conclusion on April 4 at the meeting with HFS and the Ha Tinh People’s Committee after the working group had carried out an investigation of the environmental protection components of the $10.5-billion steel and port complex in the central province of Ha Tinh.
The experts asked that the company complete the remaining procedures to be able to start operation of the wastewater quality monitoring system, as well as compile a plan of action in case of an incident, and train workers in operating these components.
They said that as of now, HFS has corrected 52 out of 53 of the violations identified by government agencies earlier. There is only one left, changing the technology from the current wet to dry quenching of coke, which HFS said would be completed in 2019. Originally, HFS’s project was approved by authorities with dry quenching technology, but then the company one-sidedly switched to using wet quenching, which causes more pollution.
The delegation said HFS now meets the requirements for the first blast furnace to start operation. It asked the company to complete the remaining structures and then the delegation will evaluate the whole complex before it reports to the MoNRE and the Prime Minister, who will then officially authorise HFS to start operation.
On April 4 it was revealed that a party committee meeting had voted to remove Vo Kim Cu, former Secretary of the Ha Tinh Party Committee and Chairman of the Ha Tinh People’s Committee, from his current position as Party Secretary-cum-Chairman of the Vietnam Co-operative Alliance for his responsibility in the Formosa environmental disaster last year.
In April 2016, fish were found dying en masse along the central coast of Vietnam. Consequent inspection identified the reason as wastewater released during HFS’ test run. In late June, HFS said it would pay a compensation of $500 million for households suffering economic damage and for marine environmental pollution treatment of four provinces.
According to the government’s report evaluating the damages released at the end of July 2016, seafood exploited within 20 nautical miles of HFS’s wastewater discharge pipe was wholly unmarketable and the price of products exploited within 20 nautical miles of the shores of Vietnam decreased by 30-50 per cent on-year. In the area of tourism, the four provinces saw about 50 per cent of pre-arranged tours cancelled and received 40-50 per cent less bookings than in the same period of 2015.
HFS has started paying out the promised compensation, but many shortcomings were reported in the process. According to newspaper, there were cases where people whose livelihood is centred on fishing and related services and were directly affected by the Formosa incident were not compensated, while people who work in jobs not at all affected received hefty compensation, causing disagreements.


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