Call for disaster compensation

Taipei: Representatives of 7,800 Vietnamese people affected by a 2016 chemical spill filed a lawsuit against Taiwanese multinational Formosa Plastics Group in Taipei.

The spill caused by Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, a Vietnamese subsidiary of the Taiwan-based parent company, killed hundreds of tonnes of fish in the seas off four central Vietnamese provinces, the plaintiffs’ representatives said outside Taiwan Taipei district court yesterday.

The subsidiary was fined more than US$500mil (RM2mil) by the Vietnamese government in late 2016. However, residents affected by the spill have not received any compensation.

“The environmental incident affected many Vietnamese residents. It polluted not only water but also soil and air,” Bishop Huang, a retired bishop of the Vietnamese Catholic Church, said.

Shouting slogans, including “Irresponsible Formosa, pay compensation now!”, the victims’ representatives urged Formosa to take responsibility for the incident, provide reasonable compensation to the victims and rehabilitate the marine environment.

Huang Xin-wen, a lawyer from the Taipei-based Environmental Rights Foundation, said she and other lawyers had visited Vietnam in February and found evidence of several tragedies relating to the environmental catastrophe.

She said a boat company owner committed suicide due to heavy debts and many fishermen had been forced to seek jobs overseas as guest workers because they could not make their own living at home.

Taiwanese human right groups expressed solidarity. They and representatives of those affected were to protest outside a Formosa shareholders’ meeting in Taipei. — dpa

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