Taiwanese firm suspended for polluting northern Vietnamese river

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Authorities in the northern province of Hai Duong have suspended a Taiwan-owned company after finding out last week it had been discharging untreated wastewater into a local river for several years.

Tung Kuang Industrial Joint Stock Company will be suspended from April 24 and its license to discharge wastewater will also be revoked.

Nguyen Trong Thua, vice chairman of Hai Duong People's Committee, said on April 21 that the suspension could only be lifted after the aluminum frames manufacturer addresses the environmental impacts of its actions.

Hsu Chih Cheng, Tung Kuang vice general director, on April 21 apologized to residents of Hai Duong Province's Cam Phuc Commune for the company's violations.

The firm also admitted to inspectors it had discharged up to 250,000 liters of untreated wastewater a day into the Ghe River since May 2005.

In an interview published on the news website VnExpress on April 18, Liu Chien Lin, vice general director of Tung Kuang, said by dumping untreated wastewater into the Ghe River in Hai Duong Province, his company saved VND80-100 million (US$4,209-5,261) a month.

Before adopting this solution, the aluminum frames manufacturer had already sacked nearly half its workforce and cut down on expenditures, but it still faced great difficulties given expensive raw materials against cheap product prices, he told the news source.

Although it was not right to do so, they couldn't help it, because it was the only way to "save" themselves, Liu told VnExpress.

However, after being caught by the Ministry of Public Security's Environment Police Department (C36) on April 14, the company would remove the pipe, he said.

C36 deputy head Luong Minh Thao said Tung Kuang's violation was comparable to that of Taiwanese-owned MSG maker Vedan Vietnam, which in 2008 was found to have been releasing toxic and untreated wastewater into the southern province of Dong Nai's Thi Vai River for 14 years.

Vedan Vietnam is now facing claims of over VND1.3 trillion ($68.4 million) from affected farmers in Ho Chi Minh City, and the southern provinces of Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau. 

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