Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha at the session (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The sea in the central region, which was earlier polluted by toxic wastewater released by a Taiwanese-owned steel company, is now safe for tourism and aquaculture.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha made the statement while answering questions raised by deputies during the questions & answers (Q&A) session of the 14th National Assembly’s ongoing second sitting in Hanoi on November 16.

He said all tourism, sport and seafood breeding activities could resume.

The Ministry of Health responsible for the examination has coordinated with several international environment analysis organisations to determine the final conclusion, he said, adding he believes the health ministry will soon announce that all seafood in the region is safe.

However, it is still necessary to follow standard guidelines to curb diseases and tackle other environmental matters, he said.

Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan requested the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment monitor the environmental pollutants and address the consequences caused by the Formosa incident to stabilise the lives of people in the affected areas.

The Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Co. Ltd caused mass fish deaths along the coast of the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue in April.

The pollution damaged about 400 hectares of coral and affected over 260,000 people who earned their living in sea-related activities.

The firm pledged to compensate over 11.5 trillion VND (500 million USD), which will be used to support local fishermen and recover the maritime environment.

Formosa pledged to deal with shortcomings in waste and wastewater treatment, improve its production technologies to ensure waste is completely treated before being discharged into the environment as required by Vietnamese State management agencies, and not repeat such an incident.

The company also promised to coordinate with Vietnamese ministries and agencies and the central provinces to build sustainable solutions to protect the maritime environment in the central region.

The Vietnamese Government along with the Prime Minister, ministries and localities have proactively engaged in the settlement of the Formosa incident in the region.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was entrusted to build a project defining and compensating damages for fishermen, while helping them buy boats and equipment for off-shore fishing.

The Ministry of Finance is responsible for partnering with the State Bank of Vietnam to propose efficient management of compensation pledged by Formosa and to devise credit supporting policies to help fishermen recover or change jobs, and build insurance policies for locals in the affected region.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is requested to support the sale of seafood and ensure food safety and hygiene, in addition to protecting the brand names of Vietnamese seafood abroad.

The Ministry of Health is tasked to build a project testing aquatic food safety and evaluating the impact of the incident on local health.

The Government has sourced 3 trillion VND (135 million USD) in advanced from Formosa’s compensation to help locals stabilise their lives.-VNA