SOC TRANG (VNS) — Hundreds of households in southern Soc Trang Province's Thanh Phu Commune are demanding strong action against a local shrimp processing company that has continued to pollute their main water source despite being fined several times for the offence.
The Tan Nhat Phuong Aquaculture Company, commune residents say, has not stopped discharging untreated waste water into the Can Duoc Canal, their main water source for irrigation and daily life needs, forcing them to suffer a "horrible" odour and badly affecting rice production.
They say that the Can Duoc canal irrigates thousands of hectares of rice fields in the province.
Commune resident Thi Bich Nga said the enterprise usually released waste water from night until dawn, and the terrible smell it caused made it difficult for all those who lived along the canal to sleep and even breathe.
Nga said the polluted water had seriously affected her rice field. Productivity had fallen from 1000kg per sao (1,300sq.m) to 700kg.
The seafood processing firm has been fined several times, but it has continued to repeat its offence, and local authorities say they do not have the power to shut it down.
Two weeks ago, My Xuyen District's Department of Natural Resources and Environment had carried out an inspection, and fined the company VND50 million ($2350) for relapsing their action.
Three previous inspections had found the firm dumping untreated waste water containing toxic chemicals 10 times higher than the allowed levels, according to the department.
The firm was fined more than VND74 million ($3450) and ordered to take measures within 30 days to have its waste water treated.
However, the situation has not changed.
Mai Thanh Cau, Chairman of the Thanh Phu People's Committee, said that Tan Nhat Phuong had two factories in Can Duoc and Zone No2 hamlets with 100 workers who process raw shrimp.
Both factories were releasing foul smelling waste water, he said.
Cau said his administration was helpless and did not have the authority to shut down the firm.
Meanwhile, a company representative contacted local reporters with a report saying it is building a waste water treatment plant.
The VND500 million ($23,500) plant, with a capacity of 200 cubic metres per day, would be completed in July, the report said, but the representative refused to respond to any query. — VNS