Vietnam shuts Taiwanese plant for dumping wastewater


HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam has ordered a big Taiwanese-owned factory to close after it was found to have been dumping untreated wastewater into a river, the government said Wednesday.

The Vedan (Vietnam) Enterprise Corp. monosodium glutamate plant was told to shut until it installs an adequate waste treatment system, the government Web site said.

The factory, which employs over 1,800 people, was found by environment officers to have been secretly dumping waste into the Thi Vai River, 43 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.

Vedan says on its Web site the plant is the biggest producer of food-flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, known as MSG, in Southeast Asia.

Wednesday’s Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper quoted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as saying Vedan had been depositing 83,330 cubic feet (2,360 cubic meters) of untreated wastewater per day into the river.

State media reported that government environmental officers had uncovered an underground pipeline network that pumped the untreated wastewater into the river.

The ministry has fined the company 267.5 million dong (US$16,000) for violating environmental laws and was also ordered to pay 127 billion dong (US$7.7 million) in environmental fees arrears, the government Web site statement said.

Vedan was also ordered to pay the cost of cleaning up the Thi Vai river, as well as compensation for the damage caused by the pollution to businesses and individuals along the river, it said.

Ministry officials and company executives were not available for comment Wednesday.

In 1995, two years after the factory opened, Vedan was ordered to pay 15 billion dong (US$910,000) in compensation to fish farmers who were affected by wastewater pollution, state media has reported.