Thanh Hoa authorities confirm pollution as cause of mass fish deaths

By    May 18, 2016 | 03:19 am PT
Authorities in the northern province of Thanh Hoa say they have established the cause of the mass fish deaths that have devastated local aquatic farms.

Test results of water drawn from the Buoi River and samples taken from dead fish show that heavy pollution is to blame for the recent mass fish deaths in the province’s Thach Thanh District that have already killed more than 18 tons of fish and affected at least 34 aquatic farming households.

Based on the test results, authorities have also ruled out the cause as a devastating transmittable epidemic.

The Buoi River has become so polluted that it can’t be cleaned using chemical and biological solutions, said provincial environment officials, adding that only natural floodwaters can wash away the contamination in the river.

In the meantime, local residents are continuing to count their losses as fish continue to wash up dead.

Fish farmers have been advised to move their cages to less the affected lower section of the river or inland ponds.

Rice farmers have also been told not to use water from the polluted river despite the fact that several hectares of rice are desperately in need of water, said Pham Trong Dung, deputy secretary of the Communist Party in Thach Thanh District.

Three businesses, including the Hoa Binh Sugarcane and Sugar JSC, have come forward and admitted to illegally discharging wastewater into the Buoi River without proper treatment. The sugar plant has agreed to pay VND1.4 billion ($63,000) in compensation to hundreds of fish farmers and shut down operation over the next six months.

The mass fish deaths in Thanh Hoa emerged on May 4 as local residents discovered dead fish floating in the river and said the water had turned a cloudy blue color and started to smell.

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