Dozen of tonnes of waste, allegedly discharged by Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Company, were discovered buried in a landfill in central Hà Tĩnh Province’s Thiên Cầm Town in Cẩm Xuyên District.
The new violations came to light while the public is still recovering from shock after the company allegedly buried100 tonnes of stinky black waste at a farm in Kỳ Trinh Ward, Kỳ Anh District, early this week.
Trần Hữu Duyệt, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of Cẩm Xuyên District, confirmed yesterday that the new violation was reported by local residents living near the landfill after they saw 8-10 trucks carrying black muddy waste to bury in the landfill in May.
At that time, Duyệt ordered the district’s Natural Resources and Environment Office to work with the People’s Committee of the town to investigate the case. The office was told to contact the provincial Environment Protection Division and the Hà Nội-based Institute of Environmental Technology to analyse the waste samples.
|Dozen of tonnes of waste, allegedly discharged by Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Company, were discovered buried in a landfill in central Hà Tĩnh Province’s Thiên Cầm Town in Cẩm Xuyên District. (Photo: SGGP)|
But the office did not send the samples for tests, Duyệt said, admitting the committee’s oversight.
Meanwhile, Trần Viết Chiến, head of the district’s Natural Resources and Environment Office, said to Giao thông (Transport) online newspaper yesterday that when the office was preparing to take samples for tests in May, following directions from the district, the Thiên Cầm Ecological Service Co-operative – the agency Formosa hired to transport the waste – showed a legal document approved by the provincial Environment Protection Division. The document said the waste was mud taken from a household wastewater plant. According to the document, the mud was safe and met Vietnamese standards, so the office did not take waste samples, Chiến said.
Nguyễn Quang Hà, deputy head of the co-operative, said the Formosa company told him the waste was household waste. He agreed to transport the waste for VND1.6 million (US$71) per trip. Hà just wanted to earn some money for his cooperative.
Yesterday morning, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Trần Hồng Hà told local media that Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Company would face a criminal charge if investigation results show the company illegally buried hazardous waste in the environment.
Hà said current law clearly regulates that an entity which generates waste must choose qualified waste treatment plants to dispose of it.
Individuals and organisations treating industrial waste, especially hazardous waste, must have valid licences issued by central-level authorised agencies if the waste is transported through multiple localities before being treated. They also have to get licences issued by the local Natural Resources and Environment Department if the waste is to be treated in a locality.
"Given these rules, we must first determine what kind of waste Formosa buried and wait for a full analysis of the waste. This will immediately clarify the guilt of the entity generating the waste, as well as the guilt of the individual or organisation in charge of treating the waste," he said.
Heavy punishments would be imposed if any violation were discovered. The People’s Committee of Hà Tĩnh Province has full authority to handle the case.
The ministry sent an inspection team to Hà Tĩnh to co-operate with the provincial Natural Resources and Environment Department in analysing waste samples, checking the progress of treating waste and verifying the entity’s legal capacity, Hà said.
Did Formosa dump waste, once again?