Thousands left without water as dead fish pile up in polluted river

By Le Hoang   May 9, 2016 | 02:42 am PT
After tons of dead fish were found in the Buoi River in the northern province of Thanh Hoa on May 4, thousands of households from 22 communes now face fresh water shortages.

Nguyen Duc Quyen, vice chairman of Thanh Hoa's People's Committee, said the province is taking urgent action to resolve the mass fish deaths along the Buoi River. The first step is disposing of the dead fish as soon as possible. The second is to find a secure source of clean water for local people.

Quyen stressed that the situation is grave and it’s not only about the dead fish. Households in 22 communes along the Buoi River do not have safe water to use for daily life.

Thanh Hoa authorities have advised people against eating the dead fish or using water from the polluted river.


Dead fish decomposing in the Buoi River are adding to the pollution. Photo by Le Hoang

Local police are coordinating with Hoa Binh authorities, where the prime suspect for the disaster is located, to investigate the case and start criminal proceedings if necessary. Thanh Hoa and Hoa Binh's departments of natural resources and environment are working to identify the source of pollution, and the results will be reported to the Prime Minister.

On May 4, people in Thanh Hoa noticed thousands of dead fish floating on the Buoi River. The water also turned a muddy color and started to smell. Over the following days, dead fish were found along a 30 kilometer stretch of the river running through Thach Thanh district.

According to preliminary estimates from Thach Thanh, 32 households have been affected and 17 tons of fish have been lost.

Authorities have identified Hoa Binh Sugarcane JSC (in Hoa Binh province) as the possible reason for the mass fish deaths along the Buoi River. The company admitted to discharging unprocessed wastewater into the 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.

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