Statement of Reverend Nguyễn Đình Thục, Vinh Parish, represents the Formosa victims, at the Taiwan Congress on the 5th of December, 2016

Yours Honorable Chairman,

We, the reverends of Vinh Parish, came from the area where the polluted environment disaster was caused by Formosa Company.

We are the direct witnesses of the great disaster which the people of Việt Nam have to suffer, at the same time we are also the victims of this man-made disaster. Today, we come here to inform the Honorable Chairman a few issues with Formosa Company.

I. A short report on the disaster

        • The progress ndt_taiwan

We summarize here the progress of the polluted environment disaster in Central Việt Nam which was caused by Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tỉnh LLC (a subsidiary of Taiwan Formosa Company) – the one which the Vietnamese called “Formosa Disaster”.

The problem started on the 6th of April, 2016 and lasted until the 8th of May, 2016, the phenomenon of the marine products dying started at Vũng Áng (Hà Tỉnh), where Formosa plant is located, after that it spread to Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, and Thừa Thiên Huế along the 250 km of coastline. A total of over 140 tons dead marine products washed up to the shore, those which sink to the bottom of the ocean were not possible to account for. The majority of dead fish are the type which lives at the bottom of the ocean and this phenomenon of dead fish are still happening.

After many times saying that Formosa is not responsible in the dead fish phenomenon, finally because of the public opinion pressure, on the 29th of June at the office of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr. Trần Nguyên Thành, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hưng Nghiệp Steel Formosa LLC admitted that Formosa is the culprit, bowed to apologize and promised to pay 500,000,000 USD for the damages.

The people of Việt Nam do not accept this simple solution, many people have submitted petition to the local court asking Formosa to repay for the damages and many demonstrations protesting Formosa had occurred.

        • The damages

Based on the information supplied by the newspapers and a governmental report which we obtained, the damages of this disaster are as follow:

          1. The environmental resources and economics damages

The amount of dead marine products washed up to the shore is over 140 tons, while we can’t account for the amount that sinks to the bottom of the ocean. From 40%-60% of the coral are dead, about 50% of roaming type of life and fish are dead which interrupt the food chain and destroy the ecosystem. (hệ sinh thái)

The man-raised marine products along the coast: “the area of 5.7 acres of raised shrimp is completely destroyed which is equivalent with 9 million breeding shrimp and about 7 tons of shrimp which is about to be harvested. There are 16,313 fish cages which were damaged which is equivalent with 140 tons of fish, 6.7 acres of dead clamps which is equivalent with 67 tons and more than 10 acres of dead crabs.

          1. Statistic about the loss of jobs and incomes

Loss of jobs or reduction of income has turned the life of many people upside down, pushing a whole generation of children into an unknown future.

  • A total of 263,000 labors are affected, including 100,000 labors is directly affected.
  • About 14% of the labor lost their job. The percentage of unemployment increases are: 10.1% in Thừa Thiên Huế an increase of 160%; 13.2% in Quảng Trị an increase of 280%; 28.6% in Quảng Bình an increase of 790%; 16.4% in Hà Tỉnh an increase of 1570%

The main jobs which relate to the ocean are: harvesting, sale, breeding and processing of the marine products, other services to support the fishing industry such as restaurant, hotel, and tourist… all are badly affected.

Specially, the amount of harvester has decreased close to 25,000 jobs. In Hà Tỉnh the reduction is almost 74% compare with before the Formosa Disaster. The amount labor in restaurant, tourism, hotel has decreased by 33%. Including Hà Tỉnh the reduction is 54% and in Quảng Bình the reduction is 52%.

  • Income, Quảng Bình is the province which suffers the most when 83.2% of the people have to have reduction of income compares to before the disaster.

Those numbers listed above are based on the report from the Ministry of Labor, Veteran, and Social. However, we think the actual true numbers are worse than that.

        • Confusion and Anxious of the people

Salt, this is a main and traditional marine product of the people in this area. Since the disaster occurred, people of the entire nation do not dare to consume this type of product because they do not know the effect of such poisons to their health.

Up to now, more than 8 months since the day the fishes are dead, we still live in fear, not knowing should we consume fish, salt, fish sauce, and any other marine products. Once eaten, what are the horrible things can happen to us or to our children? How long this situation will last?

The disgusting point is that since the disaster occurred until now, Formosa never once announces what were released into the ocean, how much was released, and during which period.

A point which scares us more is that when a number of newspapers informed us that samples of fish from Hà Tỉnh has cyanide, phenol, especially the heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, iron, and chromium.

Through many different ways, we have collected a number of chemical analysis reports of the dead fish samples in Xuân Hòa, Quảng Trạch, and Quảng Bình which were conducted by the government and confirmed that the samples do contain cadmium and mercury at much higher level than that permitted.

About sickness, even though it was not officially confirmed, the sources on the social internet recorded at least three deaths after consuming fish. A diver who worked for Formosa was dead after showing various poison symptoms. Other divers also have similar symptoms.

We have a very hard time to obtain the results of the analysis for heavy metals in our own body due to some unknown reasons.

Thus far, we have only one result from one patient indicates that the levels of mercury and lead in his blood exceed the permitted level, the mercury level was three times the permitted level.

In an investigation report in July, from the government of Việt Nam, (not yet released) “there is a large release in the area of Vũng Áng (Hà Tỉnh) which contains iron slag pellets which can absorb the poisons such as phenol, cyanide, heavy metals, multiple-ring hydrocarbon (which are the waste from coke processing) which flows along the ocean current which caused the fish to be dead.

The point here is that they purposely hide the list of the heavy metal poisons. The people of Việt Nam demand that they must clearly announce which heavy metals are the sources of the pollution.

Their effects on the environment and human health. The amount of their remnants in the bottom of the ocean and the long term effects on the future of generations of Vietnamese.

We all have heard about the disaster Minamata in Japan, and we are worrying that in the next few decades the people of Việt Nam will suffer the similar situation.

Many views indicate that the most concern for the people in the four provinces in Central Việt Nam is not the loss of job, hungry but it is the anxiety worrying because of the lack of clear cut communication about the disaster.

The main demand of the people in Central Việt Nam is not the amount of reimbursement for the present financial damages but it is the true picture of their future as well as their children future.

Some even have said they will not accept the financial reimbursement, they only want a clean ocean and Formosa gets out of Việt Nam. We agree with this opinion and think that a vast amount of people also have the same opinion.

II. Proposal

We express the following proposal, we hope the Your Honorable Chairman and the politicians in your country would whole heartily review:

        • Force Formosa to list all the poisons which were released to the ocean. Which are they? How much was released? During which periods? The effect of these poisons on the environment and human health in a period of how long?
        • Formosa to offer solutions and concrete remedy methods to clean the environment, worthy reimburse for the damages to the victims; resolve their joblessness problem during the contaminated periods. Organize and conduct a mass heavy metal analysis for the people living in the disaster areas.
        • Publicly announce the proposal to change the waste management methods and procedures to warranty the cleanliness of the environment, establish simple procedure so either the people or other third party social services agency can easily monitor the waste release procedures of Formosa. If this can’t be done, please shut down the Formosa plant.

III. Message

For a long time, we look at Taiwan as an Island Country of those who love Freedom and Human Rights. The pictures of those who dare to conquer all dangers to leave mainland China to form a peaceful and worth living place make us think about the people of England in the 18th century who dares to leave Europe to form a Free USA.

We also know the Southward policy as well as the New Southward policy which the government of Taiwan has spent boundless efforts to build in the past few decades.

We hope the policy will bring advancement and revolutionize the economy as well the independent for our people. However, what Formosa has done is to make us think twice about a different Taiwan.

As you already knew, throughout the history of Việt Nam, there is a long and ugly tradition with the Great Han of the Northerner. In sixteen wars against foreign aggression, fourteen of them were against the Northerner.

In addition, at the present time, People Republic of China (PRC) attempts to control all of Eastern Ocean, low quality merchandises containing many harmful chemicals which the PRC exports to Việt Nam; these facts turn the Vietnamese hatred of China becomes worst and worst.

Talking about these points, we do not wish to bring up the ultra nationalism or affect the relationship between your island country and mainland China. However, we would like to point out that because Formosa is doing unclear business without responsibility, and do not respect the environment in which the Vietnamese lives in causes the Vietnamese to assimilate Formosa with People Republic of China and creates a damaging image of Taiwan in the Vietnamese thinking.

We wish to bring forward the following proofs; in mid-April, 2014 when the PRC brought the drilling rig HD981 into the Vietnamese continental shelf which caused a wave of protests from our people. During that time, thousands of people came to sabotage Formosa plant as well as causing harms to many workers there.

Why? Because the way Formosa invested in Vũng Áng had left many bad images, that’s why even though they wanted to protest the PRC but they attacked Formosa. They assimilated Formosa with the PRC.

At the present time, with the Formosa disaster, the situation is even worst. The fact that demonstrations are very rare in Việt Nam because of the government pressures, arrests, and prohibited; but there were many demonstrations throughout Việt Nam especially the large protest with more than 10,000 people in front of Formosa gate on the 2nd of October, 2016 which demonstrated this point.

We hope you would stand in the position of the people of central Việt Nam to understand them: their mean to make a living is completely blocked, their future is threatened, their people are poisoned, and their children have to face with an uncertain future…

Mr. Chairman and all of you should imagine: What would you do when someone who days in and days out puts poisons in the bowl of rice which your loving children shall consume?

Formosa is slowing down, even destroys the New Southward policy of the government of Taiwan; worst, erasing the great image of the free Taiwan in the mind of the Vietnamese even changing it to a passivism thought. We know you are not enjoying such a thought.

Thank you for listening