Sugar firm told to compensate fish farmers after wastewater massacres stocks

By Le Hoang   May 13, 2016 | 03:00 am PT
One week after mass fish deaths were reported in the central province of Thanh Hoa, a sugar factory that has admitted to illegally discharging untreated wastewater into a river has agreed to compensate local farmers.

The Hoa Binh Sugarcane and Sugar JSC said it would pay VND1.4 billion ($63,000) in compensation to hundreds of fish farmers who have suffered from the mass fish deaths along the Buoi River.

The compensation is calculated based on the market price of VND80,000 per kilogram for more than 17 tons of fish that were killed by polluted water, affecting 34 households in the area.

The sugar firm has promised to pay the compensation no later than next Wednesday.

Local authorities also asked the company to provide rice to 79 households for the next six months and support affected farmers with 2 tons of fish to renew their stocks.

“We were rushing to put the factory into operation as the sugarcane harvest was at its peak and our stocks were extremely low. [That’s why] our company has not installed a wastewater treatment system,” explained Nguyen Manh Hung, deputy chief executive of the company.


The lower section of the Buoi River, several kilometers away from the sugar factory, has turned a muddy blue and started to smell. Photo by Le Hoang

Environmental authorities said the factory will be closed for six months until a treatment system is installed.

Although test results have as yet been revealed, local authorities said the sugar firm had illegally discharged untreated wastewater into the Buoi River.

The company also admitted to discharging about 300 cubic meters of untreated wastewater per day into the river in late April and early May. However, Chief Executive Nguyen Khac Chuyen said he doubted that his company was the sole offender responsible for polluting the river and affecting the livelihoods of local people. He asked authorities in Thanh Hoa and Hoa Binh provinces to conduct a thorough investigation to expose other possible culprits.

Local residents discovered dead fish floating in the river on May 4, and said the water had turned a muddy blue color and started to smell.

Since then more than 17 tons of fish belonging to 34 farmers in Thach Thanh district in Thanh Hoa have died, statistics from the district's People’s Committee show.

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