The central coast of Vietnam is home to historical sites and long shorelines of sandy beaches hugging blue waters. It boasts a thriving tourist and fishing industry.
But this scenery has changed.
Beginning early April 2016, local farmers in Ha Tinh, a province north of Hue, found their fish killed, and dead fish washed ashore.
Residents reported tons of dead marine life appearing on the beaches of several other provinces in Vietnam.
The environmental damage is severe.
Locals who depend on the sea currently cannot fish for food or sell seafood to make a living.
Speculation was rampant. Scientists said only chemical pollution could cause such a massive amount of fish kills in a short amount of time.
Tests performed by environmental experts showed that the water contained pollutants — heavy metals, cyanide, and ammonia — all hazardous chemicals that are deadly in high concentration.
Local fishermen reported that the pollution originated from a pipeline running from the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation into the sea. Divers noticed a powerful discharge of dark yellow wastewater from the underwater pipeline.
The Vietnamese authorities gave no response for three months. Finally, on June 30 government officials announced what citizens already knew — Formosa’s steel plant is the culprit and toxic chemicals from the company led to the fish deaths.
This environmental catastrophe has sparked national outrage and Vietnamese citizens have not waited in silence.
Citizens throughout the country are demanding greater transparency from the Hanoi government and for Formosa to take full responsibility for the cleanup.
Although Formosa admitted guilt and offered 500 million US dollars in compensation months after the fish deaths, many Vietnamese continue to express their outrage.
Many are concerned that the money offered will not repair the economic and environmental damage along the coast of Vietnam.
All things considered, the settlement does not appear enough to meet Formosa’s obligations — to contain toxic waste, clean up the environment, compensate local fishermen, help affected people find new jobs, resolve medical claims, and address other costs related to the disaster.
A diver died after being exposed to the water near the Formosa plant. Other divers became ill, experienced chest pains, dizziness, and changes in skin tone. Local health clinics were reportedly prevented from discussing the health status of the affected divers.
Government officials have not contacted many of the divers and affected fishermen. Many are unaware that Formosa has a compensation plan. For the past few months, these divers and fisherman have undergone severe economic hardship and incurred significant medical expenses.
Formosa Ha Tinh executives must live up to their word and ensure that the demands of local fishermen are met.
Join us as we speak up against this secret deal and demand justice for those affected by Formosa’s illegal disposal of hazardous waste.
Together, we can shed new light on the long term implications of the disaster and demand that the Formosa Corporation properly clean up its environmental pollution and adequately compensate the communities whose livelihoods and health have suffered.