Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – A team of Hà Tĩnh Province and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) inspectors travelled to the Formosa steel plant in the province’s Kỳ Anh District immediately after receiving reports of a large explosion at the plant on Tuesday.
Đặng Quốc Khánh, Chairman of Hà Tĩnh provincial People’s Committee, informed the press about the team yesterday on the sidelines of the National Assembly session in Hà Nội.
He said initial reports said the explosion came from a faulty lime kiln dust filter in the Taiwan-invested Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Iron and Steel Co. Ltd factory. Experts from specialised agencies of the provincial administration and the MoNRE--along with scientists--are conducting investigation into the cause of the incident.
“The key issue is Formosa must ensure absolute safety during its operation, including the prevention of fire and explosion,” Khánh said.
The explosion happened at lime kiln D3 in Formosa plant at around 21:00 on May 30.
Dương Tất Thắng, deputy chairman of Hà Tĩnh Province’s People’s Committee, said the explosion occurred on top of the lime kiln’s device.
No humans were injured, he added.
Witnesses told the Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that workers at the factory panicked when they heard a loud explosion and saw thick smoke rising.
Thắng said the dust filter device, manufactured jointly by Germany and Taiwan, was stuck, which caused high pressure and triggered the explosion.
Formosa representatives said they stopped operating the lime kiln immediately after the incident. The lime kiln does not have anything to do with the factory’s first blast furnace, which is still operating normally.
The lime kiln is used for the calcination of limestone to produce burnt lime.
According to the Formosa report, monitoring statistics on wastewater, air and surrounding environment at the incident time met standards.
Lê Đình Sơn, secretary of Hà Tĩnh’s Party Committee, also led a working group to examine the site of explosion yesterday morning.
Sơn asked Formosa to address technical failures of the first blast furnace within 15 days.
The trial operation of Formosa will also be closely supervised to ensure proper waste treatment.
Trần Hồng Hà, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the ministry assigned Hà Tĩnh Province authorities and the company to investigate the explosion and hold a press conference to publicise the cause.
He said that technical failures might happen, as the scandal-ridden firm is operating the factory in a trial period.
On May 10, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment had given Formosa the green light to test its blast furnace after the company fixed 52 of the 53 faults. Formosa started conducting test runs of its first blast furnace on Monday.
The blast furnace has the capacity to produce 9,300 to 10,000 tonnes of cast iron per day. In the first two weeks, it has been operated at half its capacity. The company plans to produce 1.3 million to 1.6 million tonnes of steel between now and the end of 2017.
Its second blast furnace is scheduled to become operational early next year. – VNS