Sugarcane factory blamed for fish deaths in Thanh Hoa river

By Le Hoang   May 7, 2016 | 10:55 pm PT
Sugarcane factory blamed for fish deaths in Thanh Hoa river
Farmers left helpless as pollution massacres fish. Photo by Le Hoang
Wastewater discharged from the Hoa Binh Sugarcane and Sugar JSC in the northern province of Hoa Binh has been blamed for more mass fish deaths along the Buoi River in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

The company admitted to discharging unprocessed wastewater into the Buoi River in late April and early May, according to Le Van Binh, head of the Environmental Protection Unit under Thanh Hoa’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Farmers from Thach Thanh district in Thanh Hoa province have been reduced to tears as they helplessly stand by and watch tons of their fish die.

Hundreds of fish farmers along the Buoi River are facing an unprecedented disaster. The water in the river has turned a muddy blue color and started to smell in recent days, and the polluted water killed thousands of aquatic creatures in recent days.

At about 10 p.m. on May 7, farmers noticed their fish swimming lethargically. Many thought it was due to the weather conditions and used canvas covers to protect their catches, but they quickly seized up and died, according to Le Huy Tien, a farmer from Thanh Vinh commune in Thach Thanh district.

“At about 2 a.m., we heard the fish start to thrash around and noticed dead fish floating in the cages. Our stretch of the river became animated as people called out for help,” Tien said. Some farmers moved their fish to boats with clean, fresh water, but it was too late.

Nguyen Van Do said that no one in his village was able to save their fish from the polluted water. Only one cage in Thach Lam commune was saved after the owner moved it to his own spring.

One of the worst hit farmers was Nguyen Thi Bau from Thanh Vinh commune. Nearly three tons of her fish died last night. The thin woman sat hopelessly on her cage and burst into tears. “My family has invested everything we have in the farm. We thought we would make about VND300 million-VND400 million ($13,300-17,800) if we were lucky, but now all the fish have gone. We don't know how we are going to survive,” she said.

More than 17 tons of fish belonging to 32 farmers in Thach Thanh district are dead. In Thanh Vinh commune, more than 10 tons have died, initial statistics from Thach Thanh People’s Committee show.

On May 7, Nguyen Duc Quyen, vice chairman of Thanh Hoa's People’s Committee, and representatives from the province’s Departments of Natural Resources and Environment and Agriculture and Rural Development visited the Buoi River to assess the situation. Quyen asked the People’s Committee to find the reason behind the mass fish deaths and help the affected farmers. All the dead fish must be disposed, he said.

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