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Vietnam confirms wastewater from Taiwanese fish killer meets environmental standards

Vietnam confirms wastewater from Taiwanese fish killer meets environmental standards
Part of a wastewater treatment system in Formosa Ha Tinh Steel. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Hung

The Vietnamese government on Thursday said wastewater from Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, which caused Vietnam's biggest environmental disaster in central Vietnam last April, now meets environmental standards.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has set up two automatic monitoring stations near the Vietnamese unit of Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group in the central province of Ha Tinh. Samples taken at each station three times a day indicate that wastewater discharged to the sea from the plant has met the set standards since July 27.

Formosa has so far finished building nine separate wastewater treatment systems. They have also run three other stations for treatment of domestic, biochemical and industrial wastewater before releasing it to the sea.

Previously, the Taiwanese company processed wastewater from various sources in a single station before discharging to the sea.

From late September, Formosa added six indicators to its automatic monitoring system. Data from the system is transferred directly to Ha Tinh Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the General Department of Environment.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said in July it had detected 53 violations in design, construction and operation committed by Formosa, with the illegal change to the coke wet quenching technology being the most serious of them all. The company had initially intended to apply the eco-friendly dry quenching technology, but eventually adopted the "dirtier" wet quenching method to save costs. 

Formosa will start on March 31 next year replacing the coke wet quenching technology with the coke dry quenching one. The process is expected to be completed by June 30, 2019. While the installation is under way, the company promises to set up a treatment station to clean coke before processing, the Vietnamese ministry said.

In early April, wastewater from the plant killed tons of fish along some 200 kilometers of Vietnam’s central coastline.

About 41,000 fishermen and over 176,000 people dependent on the industry in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thin - Hue have been affected by the disaster, the government said in a report in July.

Formosa Ha Tinh Steel made a public apology and fulfilled its compensation commitment after transferring $500 million to the Vietnamese government in August.