Vietnam struggles with environmental crimes
More than 50 serious pollution cases were discovered in 2016, including the mass fish deaths in four provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue in the central region.
Seven ministries and more than 100 Vietnamese and foreign scientists spent 84 days and nights to trace down the culprit which caused the mass fish death catastrophe. The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) finally gathered enough evidence to force Formosa Ha Tinh, the steel complex developer from Taiwan, to admit its behavior of discharging untreated waste water which caused mass fish deaths and serious pollution to coastal areas.
The mass fish death was raising public concern while another scandal was discovered. The Ky Anh Urban Environment Management & Construction Company was caught landfilling waste sludge, which was hazardous waste from Formosa.
Many people called for the shutdown of Formosa Ha Tinh. However, MONRE said that the soil and water environment in the waste sludge landfilling area were still safe. Ky Anh Company was prosecuted by the Ha Tinh Police.
Another environment scandal was also discovered thanks to mass fish deaths. After nearly 50 tons of caged fish bred by locals in Nghi Son Island in Thanh Hoa were found dead, MONRE examined the pipeline that brings waste water from the Nghi Son Oil Refinery and set up a team of officers to discover the cause behind the mass fish deaths.
In June 2016, a waste reservoir at a titanium exploitation site broke allowing huge amounts of toxic red mud to flood residential areas in Thuan Quy commune of Ham Thuan Nam district in Binh Thuan. MONRE then commanded to halt the operation of Tan Quang Cuong, the titanium exploiter for investigation and repair the damages.
Later, MONRE released a decision on stopping the exploitation of titanium-zircon ore in Nam Suoi Nhum area.
Vietnam now has to pay a heavy price for focus on economic development while not paying appropriate attention to environmental protection.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said that Vietnam won’t exchange its environment for immediate benefits and won’t sacrifice its environment for investment projects.
The Prime Minister has ordered a check of all legal documents and reorganization of state management on the environment from the local to central levels, saying that the heads of localities must take responsibility for environmental problems in their localities.
Vietnam will implement policies under which polluters must pay for environmental problem settlement.
Thien Nhien, VietNamNet Bridge