The biggest scandal was the spill of hazardous waste into the sea by Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation – a Taiwanese firm based in central Ha Tinh province, VEA Deputy General Director, Nguyen The Dong said at a meeting to review the administration’s performance in 2016 and set tasks for 2017.
This toxic spill caused mass fish deaths along the coast of the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.
More than 50 major pollution cases were also brought to light, stirring public concern. Most of them polluted river and sea water by intentionally releasing waste that contained toxic substances. Some were caused by lax management of production activities or the use of below-standard equipment, Dong said.
The VEA sent four delegations to inspect and examine environmental protection activities at 825 establishments in 32 provinces and cities nationwide in 2016. They are asking competent agencies to punish violators with total fines of about VND132 billion (US$5.8 million).
The handling of big polluters has been promoted substantially, the VEA reported, noting that 171 of the 435 serious polluters have basically finished dealing with their pollution.
To fulfill the tasks for next year, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Vo Tuan Nhan asked the VEA to consolidate the State management of environmental protection from the central to grass-roots levels, improve its capacity of responding to emergencies, and play a better role in coordinating environmental protection activities.