Vietnamese environment minister Tran Hong Ha on Monday met with foreign scientists from the US, Germany and Israel in an attempt to identify the cause of recent mass fish deaths in four coastal provinces.
During the meeting in Hanoi, Ha briefed the scientists on the environmental disaster and asked them to “actively support the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Vietnam’s agencies in investigating and identifying the cause of the unusual seafood deaths and in protecting Vietnam’s marine environment in the long term,” according to a statement posted on the ministry's website on Monday.
The scientists specialize in oceanography, coastal geology, coastal engineering and sustainable environment.
Ha also said his Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is willing to let the foreign scientists assess the activities of factories which discharge wastewater into the sea in Vung Ang.
Prof. Roberto Mayerle, director of the Research and Technology Center Westcoast of Kiel University in Germany, said the scientists will also work with the Ministry of Science and Technology.
He suggested sending more experts and equipment to Vietnam to help the country investigate the cause of the incident, according to the statement.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told authorities investigating the disaster to do their best and solve the case.
"We will not shield anyone found causing the pollution," he told a meeting in Ha Tinh Province Sunday attending by all deputy PMs, several Cabinet members, the central bank governor, and leaders of the four provinces affected by massive fish deaths.
“We are reviewing all facilities without exception, including Formosa,” he said.
Hundreds of tons of fish were washed ashore in April in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces, apparently killed by industrial effluents.
Suspicion has centered on Hung Nghiep Formosa Steel Company, a major Taiwanese firm in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh, which admitted it has a large sewage pipe going straight into the sea. But it claimed all its discharged wastewater had been treated.
Officials have said they could not find any connection between Formosa's discharge and the disaster.
The environment ministry has admitted that response to the disaster was slow.