Vietnam suspends steel firms after pollution protests
By Agence France-Presse
Two steel plants in central Vietnam were ordered to suspend production, according to an official statement Thursday, following reports of protests by residents complaining of polluted air and water from the factories.
The temporary suspensions come amid mounting anxiety over the environment in Vietnam where a massive toxic dump by a separate steel plant in 2016 killed masses of fish along the central coast in one of the country’s worst-ever environmental disasters.
Residents near the steel firms on the outskirts of the bustling city of Danang said local officials promised in 2016 that they would be relocated, according to state media.
Photos on state-run media earlier this week showed large crowds gathered near the plants, reportedly protesting the delayed relocation process and ongoing pollution woes.
Danang city officials said the Vietnamese-owned Dana Y and Dana Uc Steel corporations were “asked to stop all production activities that cause environmental pollution”, according to a statement Thursday.
It did not say when production is expected to resume.
The statement added that local officials agreed to “finalise a solution” regarding the relocations, while warning residents not to violate laws or disrupt “security and social order”.
Local residents previously protested over pollution complaints in 2016, which also prompted a temporary suspension and the government’s promise to move their homes, according to state-run VNExpress.
Villagers complained this week of contaminated water, an open landfill, dusty air and noise pollution, according to the news site.
The incident follows a huge toxic spill in April 2016 by Taiwanese steel firm Formosa which decimated livelihoods in fishing villages along the central coast and prompted rare protests across the country.
Formosa was ordered to pay $500 million to the Vietnamese government over the disaster, though many fishermen tried to sue the government after the payment was issued, claiming they were not compensated enough or anything at all.(AFP)