P for pollution: Locals fret over more fish deaths as Vietnamese reservoir turns purple

By Xuan Thang - Hoang Truong   March 28, 2017 | 08:17 pm PT
P for pollution: Locals fret over more fish deaths as Vietnamese reservoir turns purple
The reservoir in Ba Ria-Vung Tau in its worrying shade. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Truong
Locals say the trauma comes every time seafood processors discharge sewage, and it has persisted for years.

Water in a reservoir in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau has turned into a pinkish purple and stinky in recent days, raising concerns that the notorious untreated sewage discharge at local seafood processors is at it again.

The 10-hectare (25-acre) reservoir, which stands next to a group of seafood processing factories in Tan Thanh District, is linked to ditches and the downstream of the Cha Va River, home to hundreds of fish farms.

In recent years, Vietnamese people have become increasingly wary of pollutions driven by production expansion as the seafood industry seeks to catch up with overseas fast-growing demand for shrimp and fish.

Nguyen Quang Vinh, a local resident, said the reservoir turns purple anytime the processors discharge wastewater.

“It’s been like that for many years and the authorities have not really done anything to stop it,” he told VnExpress. The concerns of the locals are compounded as children in the area also fall sick regularly, he added.

“We cannot live with this kind of stink,” Vinh said.

Tran Dinh Khoa, vice chairman of the provincial legislature, agreed that there is a problem with the waste discharge.

“The companies are really heartless,” Khoa said after inspecting the reservoir Tuesday. He promised to urge the local government to take stronger actions, such as shutting down the polluters.

In the short run, Khoa said the province would close the reservoir to treat the water and sediment.


The polluted reservoir is just steps away from the Cha Va River. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Truong

Last December, a court in Ba Ria-Vung Tau ordered 11 seafood companies to recompense local fish farmers VND13 billion ($570,800) as their waste discharge was accused of killing tons of fish on the Cha Va River in 2015.

Each of 33 families are entitled to payment of between VND50 million and VND2.1 billion.

The families lodged complaints against 14 seafood processors after investigation from the Institute of Environment and Natural Resources concluded that their untreated waste had polluted the river since 1998. The farmers dropped their case against three of the companies following pre-trial negotiation.

Several among the 14 processors have been shut down following the trial while others ordered to scale down production.

go to top