Vietnamese journalists attacked while investigating Formosa waste scandal

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Reporters try to flee as confronted by two guards of a waste treatment firm in Phu Tho on July 22. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Reporters try to flee as confronted by two guards of a waste treatment firm in Phu Tho on July 22. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre

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Guards at a company in Phu Tho Province allegedly beat and seized equipment from journalists trying to document how waste from a unit of Taiwanese steel firm Formosa is treated and disposed of.
Police in Phu Ninh District in the northern province have confirmed that three reporters from Lao Dong newspaper and VTC14 television channel were attacked at Phu Ha Environment Company on Friday.
According to a Tuoi Tre report, the company had just moved 145 tons of “dangerous” waste of Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp. in the central province of Ha Tinh to Phu Tho.
The journalists, including one woman, came to the area after receiving local residents’ complaints about the waste.
They were outside the waste treatment area at around 11 a.m. Friday when five men introducing themselves as guards of the company snatched their phones and camera, after slapping and beating them, according to the Tuoi Tre report.
Police have recovered the reporters’ equipment and pledged to investigate.
Formosa Ha Tinh is struggling with a public relations disaster in Vietnam after it admitted to discharging toxic waste into the sea and causing massive fish deaths in April.
It is also being investigated for another pollution scandal involving the alleged illegal dumping of even more industrial waste at various locations.
Authorities in Ha Tinh have so far found six sites where the company dumped its waste illegally, including a farm where 100 tons of waste was found earlier this month.
The authorities have planned to move all the waste to proper treatment sites during the weekend.

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