The Vietnamese steel business of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group has told all employees in a memo on Thursday that its mistakes are behind the mass fish deaths along the country’s central coast.
In the memo, obtained by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Tran Nguyen Thanh, chairman of the Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Co. Ltd., asserted that “mistakes caused by some sub-contractors” during the trial run of the steel mill have led to the fish kill.
The link between the plant, located at Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh, one of the four affected provinces, and the mass fish deaths has been confirmed by a multi-ministerial inspection led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, according to the document.
“Even though this is an outcome we did not expect, the company respects the inspection result of the government,” Thanh said.
The memo said Hung Nghiep Formosa is closely cooperating with competent agencies to resolve the issue.
“On behalf of the company, we vow to try our best to ensure a stable and lawful working environment, where the environmental protection responsibility is prioritized,” Thanh promised.
The memo was released just hours before a 5:00 pm government meeting to announce the official results of an inspection to find the cause and culprit behind the spate of fish deaths in four central Vietnamese provinces in April.
All employees of the main and sub-contractors of Formosa at Vung Ang have been subject to temporary leave since June 29, according to a source close to Tuoi Tre.
Some workers revealed that they have no idea when to return to work.
The first batch of dead fish was found washed ashore in the north-central province of Ha Tinh on April 6.
The epidemic began spreading to nearby Quang Binh and Quang Tri Provinces, as well as Hue, the capital of Thua Thien-Hue Province, sometime between April 10 and May 4.
According to newswire Dan Tri, approximately ten to 15 metric tons of dead fish were found along beaches in Ha Tinh, whereas in Quang Binh and Quang Tri those numbers reached 25 and 30 metric tons, respectively. In Hue, almost 6,000 fish were reported dead.
In late April, a Ha Tinh-based steel mill developed by the Vietnamese unit of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group came under attack by allegations that industrial pollution being released from the multibillion-dollar facility may have caused the mysterious mass fish deaths.
Concern has been focused on a 1.5km waste water pipeline which runs directly from the plant into the ocean, according to AFP.