Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp. (FHS) has transferred US$250 million, half of the compensation package committed for a toxic spill disaster in central Vietnam, to the Vietnamese government, environment minister said Friday.
Tran Hong Ha, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said the government will distribute the amount to the four affected provinces.
FHS will pay the remaining half on August 28, Ha told local media on the sidelines of a parliamentary session in Hanoi on Friday.
He also said a team of scientists are working to assess the quality of seawater in the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue in order to find solutions to the environmental disaster.
In a report to the parliament this week, the government says the toxic pollution discharged by FHS has harmed the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people, including 41,000 fishermen.
An estimated 70 tons of dead fish washed ashore along more than 200 kilometers of coastline in the four provinces in April.
Last month the Vietnamese government announced that FHS, a subsidiary of Taiwan's Formosa Plastics, was responsible for the mass fish deaths, saying the firm dumped industrial waste containing phenol, cyanide and iron hydroxides in the water.
Chuan Yuan-Cheng, chairman of FHS, said: “We respect the government's investigation results and are cooperating with the authorities to handle and mitigate the consequences."
The firm also apologized for causing the disaster and committed to paying US$500 million to recompense local people for their economic losses, supporting them to find new jobs and treating polluted sea environment.
It also promised to repair its waste treatment system and cooperate with responsible government agencies to monitor sea environment.
But more scandals continued to be uncovered. Earlier this month authorities in Ha Tinh found six sites where FHS dumped its waste illegally, including a farm where 100 tons of waste was found.
Authorities are investigating into these alleged violations.