Taiwanese MSG maker Vedan Vietnam offered on Wednesday to raise its compensation to Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province farmers almost fivefold for the damages it caused by polluting the Thi Vai River for 14 years.
According to a note sent to province authorities, Vedan said it would give affected farmers and fishermen VND10 billion (US$527,000) instead of the VND2.4 billion it had offered earlier.
In a meeting on May 18, the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province People's Committee asked Vedan to compensate 1,255 families affected by the pollution to the tune of more than VND53 billion, a figure endorsed by Vietnamese environmental authorites who had surveyed the damage.
But Vedan said scientists it sent to the site estimated that the damages caused were worth much less. The company then offered VND2.4 billion in compensation.
Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City authorities have sent a note asking Vedan to pay VND45.7 billion to 839 affected families, though the city Farmers Association has said 839 families in the city suffered VND107 billion in losses at the hands of Vedan.
Vedan's untreated wastewater killed aquaculture and riverside crops in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, HCMC and Dong Nai Province from 1994 to 2008.
Over the period, the company dumped 105 million liters of untreated wastewater into the river each month via a secret pipeline.
For two years since the act was discovered, farmers and Vietnam authorities have been asking for compensation but Vedan's offers have been consistently rejected as too low.
In late April, the Taiwanese firm officially confirmed it would pay Dong Nai farmers VND15 billion after the farmers had rejected the amount as too small. Dong Nai authorities have estimated that Vedan pollution caused damage worth more than VND1.6 trillion to 5,064 local families.