With intensifying storms, severe floods and droughts, and alarming rates of land and coastal ecosystem degradation, Vietnam has been designated one of the most vulnerable countries to environmental disasters. This was most acutely felt in April 2016 when a chemical spill from a Taiwanese steel plant killed millions of fish and obliterated the local maritime economies of Vietnam’s north-central coast. The situation was further complicated as the Vietnamese state suppressed information and citizens resisted with unrest not experienced in 45 years of communist rule. Based on 7 months of ethnographic observations in Quan, a village near the chemical spill, I explore how the natural disaster led to a rise in undocumented migration through three processes: the devastation of the local economy, the transformation of the gendered division of labor, and the state’s unwillingness to categorize migrants as natural disaster victims. Even though the state tried to appease locals by offering subsidized loans, the social contract between the sending state and its citizens was broken. Aspiring migrants explored unauthorized pathways while current migrants overstayed their work contracts. The implications of this paper include expanding the nuances of environmental migration.