Sea water in Vietnam’s four coastal provinces is now basically safe for swimming and fish farming, four months after being heavily polluted by toxic discharge from a Formosa
-invested steel plant, a minister said in Hanoi on Monday.
The contents of iron, phenol and cyanide in sea water are mostly within allowable limits, said Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha
at a conference reviewing the status of the marine environment following a mass fish die-off in April this year.
The marine environment in the central region is expected to recover soon, and “locals will have steel, fish and a clean and safe sea environment,” Minister Ha added.
A more thorough research by the Ministry of Health is needed to determine whether fish caught within 20 nautical miles off the coast are safe to eat, he noted.
Prof. Mai Trong Nhuan, who headed a team of Vietnamese and foreign scientists commissioned by the government to study the impact of the disaster, said the chemicals, including cyanide and carbolic acids, are becoming more dilute and there are small fish living in once destroyed reefs.
Toxins discharged by the $10.6-billion steel mill invested by Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group in Ha Tinh
province were blamed for causing the worst environmental disaster in Vietnam so far. More than 100 tons of fish washed ashore long more than 200 kilometers of the central coast in early April.
The incident affected the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people in the region, including 41,000 fishermen and 176,000 people dependent on them, the government said in a reportsubmitted to the National Assembly in July.
Formosa Group in end-June took responsibility for the disaster and committed to pay $500 million in compensation, which will be used to clean up the environment and support fishermen in finding new jobs.
Operations of the steel factory have been put under close watch since the incident. Environment authorities have set up tracking stations to monitor discharges of harmful waste into the sea.