Vietnam punishes four officials over Formosa environmental disaster

Reuters News
|
Posted: Jan 26, 2017 7:33 AM

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam said on Thursday it would punish four officials over one of its worst environmental disasters, caused by a unit of Taiwan conglomerate Formosa Plastics, in the first action against government officials ten months after the accident.

Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, which runs an $11-billion steel plant, polluted more than 200 km (125 miles) of coastline in April, killing more than 100 tonnes of fish and devastating the environment, jobs and economies of four provinces.

In its first measures against government officials 10 months after the event, four environmental officials are to be transferred to other departments and face administrative action, warnings or rebukes, the government said in a statement.

"These are the officials related to the state's management responsibility," the government said on its website, blaming them for what it called "a serious environmental incident and abnormal seafood death in four central provinces".

None of the four was named, but the government said one of them, a deputy director of the General Environment Department, would be downgraded to a lower post.

After months of mystery over the cause of the fish deaths, and public outrage against both the Hanoi government and one of the communist state's largest investors, Formosa agreed in June to pay $500 million in compensation.

The incident sparked several public protests, with coordinated rallies in major cities and an outpouring of anger on social media.

The affected region is expected to take a decade to completely recover from the accident, the environment ministry has said.

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)