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Residents use dead fish to protest polluted rivers

Update: September, 08/2015 - 08:32
A fisherman collects dead fish at a fishing farm in the Cha Va River of Long Son Commune, Vung Tau City. Hundreds of kilograms of dead fish were brought to the headquarters of the People's Committee in coastal Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, in a protest against river pollution yesterday morning. — Photo tuoitre.vn

BA RIA-VUNG TAU (VNS) — Hundreds of kilograms of dead fish were brought to the headquarters of the People's Committee in coastal Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, in a protest against river pollution yesterday morning.

Local residents carried fish which were reportedly killed overnight by factory waste water.

Those fish were just a few of thousands of which were found floating dead on the Cha Va river in Long Son commune in Vung Tau city early Sunday morning. The river surface was coated white with dead plaice and cobia fish, stretching along the downstream part of the river where at least 40 households relied on fish farming for a living.

Duong Van Hung, one of the affected farmers, said he noticed fish jumping out of the water on Saturday night, and showing signs of lacking oxygen in the water, which soon stank.

The next morning, all of his 15,000 plaice and 3,000 cobia fish were dead.

"I poured all of my money into those fish," said Hung. "Nearly VND1 billion (US$44,400)".

Locals blamed seafood processing factories in the seafood production zone overlooking the river in neighbouring Tan Thanh district's Tan Hai commune.

Farmers said those factories were known to have discharged untreated waste water into the river for years, polluting the water and killing their fish.

Sunday's mass fish death was the third, and most serious, such incident in the last two months. In July, at least three tonnes of fish were reported dead by farmers.

Pushed to their breaking point, the locals on Sunday brought their dead fish to the front gate of some of the factories and to the provincial People's Committee building yesterday morning to protest pollution.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau People's Committee chairman Nguyen Van Trinh held an urgent meeting with locals following the protest, saying that he would demand the 18 factories alleged to have polluted temporarily shutdown this week to investigate the incident.

"If those factories did pollute the river, leading to the death of the fish, the People's Committee will force them to compensate the residents," Trinh said.

He also asked the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to set up an inspection team to look into the incident and provide an answer to the residents in the next 20 days.

Long Son Commune People's Committee vice chairman Nguyen Van Mai said that the authorities took samples of the fish and the river water for investigation.

Officials were also assessing the losses of the farmers, he added. — VNS

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