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27 Oct 2022

RFA Vietnamese

Vietnam: Fire at Formosa steel factory emits thick putrid yellow smoke causing alarm and fear of environmental catastrophe

"Fire at Formosa steel factory in Vietnam emits thick putrid yellow smoke" 27 October 2022

The foul-smelling yellow smoke belching from the steel factory’s many chimneys was much worse than the usual fumes that Vietnamese high-school student Thanh Tam was used to. [...]

Preliminary investigations revealed the yellow smoke was caused by a fire inside the plant, the director of the provincial police department, Nguyen Hong Phong, told the state-run Industry and Trade newspaper. The Oct. 22 incident is under investigation, he said.

The Formosa factory, located in Ky Anh district, in the coastal province of Ha Tinh, has a poor reputation. In 2016, it caused Vietnam’s worst-ever environmental disaster when it discharged toxic chemicals into the ocean, devastating more than a hundred miles of coastline in four central provinces of Vietnam.

Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group, the primary investor in the steel plant, offered U.S.$500 million to clean up and compensate people affected by the spill, but the government has faced protests over the amount and terms of the settlement, as well as the slow pace of payouts. [...]

Though Formosa admitted responsibility for the 2016 disaster and paid compensation, it was paid to the Vietnamese government rather than directly to the affected people. Some of those attempted to sue Formosa through the Vietnamese courts, but their petition was denied.

The government has jailed numerous activists for protesting how the disaster and compensation had been handled, including Nguyen Van Hoa, who had been a regular contributor to RFA.

When the court sentenced Hoa to seven years in 2017, state media reported that his videos, photos, and articles about the disaster were for the purpose of “propagating against, distorting and defaming the government.” and that he “received money” from “extremists and hostile forces” to cause public disorder. [...]

Part of the following timelines

Vietnam: Fish deaths blamed on Formosa Plastics; Taiwan Court dismisses Vietnamese farmers' lawsuit over environmental damage

Vietnam: Fire at Formosa steel factory evokes memories of 2016 environmental catastrophe