Government urges investigation to mass dead fish in central region

In a dispatch sent from the Government Office yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and provincial people’s committees to urgently investigate the widespread and mass dead fish in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, determine the cause, propose measures to handle the issue and report to the Prime Minister.

Mass fish death has damaged fishing, seafood catering, and tourism industries in the central region (Photo: SGGP)

Deputy PM Dung tasked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to guide the four provinces to work with authorized agencies to determine the cause, collect and handle the dead fish to prevent environmental pollution, count damage and assist citizens to resume farming and protect seafood resources.

On the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to coordinate with the Ha Tinh province People’s Committee and related agencies including police and border guard forces to spell out the information on a wastewater discharge pipe at Vung Ang waters.

If it is true, they should strictly handle the case in accordance with the law, propose solutions and report to the Prime Minister, he ordered.

According to the media, some fishermen in Ha Tinh province equipped diving suits by themselves on April 22 and spotted the pipe connecting with Taiwaness Formosa project while attempting to find out causes killing fish en masses.

The pipe was buried under a cover of stones and sand bags discharging yellow and smelly wastewater into the sea, they said.

An unnamed leader from Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Company, who is the investor of the project, told Sai Gon Giai Phong that the pipe was part of a wastewater release canal system in Formosa project. The canal was 1m wide and 1.5 kilometer long, put 17 meters under the sea level and 1.5 kilometers from the beach and built in December 2012.

The company discharged tens of thousands of wastewater through the canal system a day. It had taken wastewater samples for testing and found they meet standards regulated by the Ministry of Resources and Environment. The company had automatic testing machine and all results were detailed on computers, he said.

A central mission led by Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, deputy director of the Fisheries Preservation and Development Department together with representatives from the Research Institute for Marine Fisheries, the Research Institute for Aquaculture No.1 and the Environmental Crime Prevention and Fighting Police Department  arrived in Thua Thien-Hue province to work with related agencies on the issue on Friday.

Mr. Le Tran Nguyen Hung, deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the dead fish comprising both wild and farm raised got worst on April 15-18. The hardest hit district was Phu Loc. Fish died very quickly at the same time without signs of illness.

The mass fish death has no longer occurred, said Nguyen Quang Vinh Binh, head of the province’s Department of Fisheries Resources Exploitation and Protection. Farm raised fish died in Lang Co town about two-three days a month before.

Ms. Phuong Dung said that the delegation had taken dead fish and water samples  in Quang Binh and would continue collecting samples in Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Tri and Ha Tinh to determine the reason for the fish death.

Related article:
North central coast white with mass dead fish

By staff writers – Translated by Hai Mien

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