Inspectors visit a waste treatment system of FHS. (Photo: VnEconomy)
The Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has established a special team to closely monitor operations of a steel producing plant run by Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation (FHS) within three years, local media reported.
FHS was found discharging toxins that caused mass fish deaths along the coast of four Vietnamese central provinces in early April this year and heavily affected the livelihoods of locals. FHS last month pledged to pay $500 million in compensation to the Vietnamese government.
At a working session late on July 24 with the local government of Ha Tinh province, home to the $10.5 billion steel project, and the ministry’s Environment Administration, an FHS executive said that the company had started to install the safer coke dry quenching system.
FHS also adjusted down the capacity of the first coke quenching furnace and committed to allocate depots to collect waste, both liquid and solid.
FHS has been reported to have buried nearly 300 tons of solid waste outside the company. There remain over 700 tons of black mud discharged from the steel mill and stored within the factory.
Truong Trong Nghia, member of the Ho Chi Minh City delegation to the National Assembly, last week proposed the country’s supreme legislative body set up a committee to investigate the Formosa case. The proposal was welcomed by Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha.
In an article published on the Saigon Times Online newspaper, Vu Quang Viet, a renowned economist and former statistics expert for the United Nations, said that the production of a ton of crude steel under the Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) technology costs an estimated $310 in the United States.
In addition, U.S. manufacturers have to spend up to $74 to detoxify the environment when producing a ton of steel.
FHS is calculated to spend $127 million a year to on clearing toxins discharged from its steel mill if the facility runs at an annual capacity of 7.5 million tons.
Therefore, even when the environmental cost is excluded, FHS can hardly make a profit given a price of a ton of steel hovering around $300 a ton, the expert added.