Australian-invested dye plant closed for polluting environment

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Inspectors in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria Vung Tau Friday closed a foreign-invested dye factory found releasing untreated wastewater into the environment the day before.


According to investigators, MeiSheng Textiles Vietnam Company, a member of Australia-based Leading Textiles Group, was discharging wastewater produced during the dyeing process from tanks to the ground within its wastewater treatment area.


Part of the wastewater was also discharged to areas outside the factory premises through a pipe system and small ditches, investigators said.


Workers operating MeiSheng's wastewater treatment system told local environmental police PC49 that they were discharging untreated wastewater on orders from the plant's manager.


Director general Robert Shiau admitted the act, adding that the dyeing system had been operated only for testing purposes in April and has so far turned out just three tons of products.


However, Nguyen Thai Sinh, chief inspector of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said the factory, in fact, had begun full-fledged operations.


Moreover, the company had failed to assess the impact of the dyeing system on the environment as required by law, Sinh added.


An official from quality water control department of Ba Ria Vung Tau Water Supply Company said the Ngai Giao Industrial Zone, where MeiSheng was located, was near the Nho (Small) spring.


As the spring water flows to Da Den Lake, the main water source for some 90 percent of local people in the province, the untreated wastewater would poison the lake as it mixed with rain water and flowed into the spring, said the official who wished to stay unnamed.


Vedan saga


In the most scandalous water pollution case to date, it is yet to be decided whether affected farmers in Dong Nai province will take the offending company to court, a local party official has said. 


Dao Van Minh, deputy secretary of Long Thanh District Party Unit in the southern province, said Friday a final decision has not been reached on whether provincial farmers will bring to court their compensation claims against Taiwanese-owned Vedan Vietnam Co., a monosodium glutamate maker.


Farmers are yet to approve how much compensation they should demand and how they should claim it, he said after a meeting with farmers.


On Thursday, the Dong Nai Farmers Association was quoted as saying by several reports that farmers affected by the company's pollution of the Thi Vai River for over 14 years will ask for support instead of claiming compensation.


The association's representative was quoted by the VnExpress website as saying local farmers were facing difficulties in collecting evidence and couldn't afford the court fees  five percent of the claimed damages.


However, at the latest meeting, some farmers insisted Vedan had to pay them "compensation", not "support", although they admitted to the obstacles facing them.


Farmer Vu Dinh Son of Long Phuoc Commune said even if the farmers' association asks for support from the MSG maker, the amount must be nearly VND120 billion (nearly $6.3 million), not the VND15 billion it had previously proposed.


Last month, the Dong Nai People's Committee had asked Vedan to pay affected farmers VND119.58 billion in compensation.


Minh said authorities will send experts to work with the farmers' association and related agencies to provide them with legal support if they are determined to sue Vedan.

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