Demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest the actions of a Taiwanese plastics company suspected of poisoning millions of fish which have been washing up on the shores of the Vietnamese coast.
Since April, mass fish deaths have been occurring along a 200 km stretch of Vietnam’s central coast in areas such as Ha Tinh, Quang-Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue. Although no conclusive evidence has been released, locals blame pollution from a steel mill owned by the Formosa Plastics Corporation.
Tran Dinh Du, deputy director of agriculture in Quang Binh province, said that the fish were poisoned by “unidentified substances” and urged locals to stop eating fish.
Angry locals have been further enraged by the slow and confusing response to the situation by both the government and Formosa Plastics, which protests taking place in Vietnam and closer to home in Taiwan.
In response to the accusations, Formosa Plastics first said that people had to accept environmental trade-offs for industrial growth. They later apologized, highlighting the fact that the steel plant in question included a state-of-the-art $45 million wastewater treatment system, LA Times reports.
Yesterday, more than 30 migrant workers from Vietnam gathered in front of Sunworld Dynasty Hotel in Taipei, where the board meeting for Formosa Plastics group was held, Taipei Times reports. The workers sported similar signs and photographs of dead fish and demanded the company to disclose pollution readings.
Thanks to the company’s clumsy response, the protests did not stop. According to the BBC, on May 1 angry activists rallied in Hanoi with signs that read “Formosa Plastics is guilty! Get out of Vietnam!”
The Vietnamese government has invited experts from Germany, Japan and Israel to determine the cause of the poisoning, but they have yet to come to a conclusion. The disaster is proving to be an unnecessary economic burden for Vietnam, which last year earned $6.6 billion from seafood exports.
The steel mill was originally supposed to be built in Yunlin on the west coast of Taiwan, but apparently the company was turned down over environmental concerns. We can only speculate as to why.
By Sarah Lin
[Images via Taipei Times / The Initium]