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In Central Vietnam, Mass Fish Death Raises Alarm

Authorities in central Vietnam are investigating a steel firm and its wastewater pipeline after scores of dead saltwater fish began washing up on the shores of Quang Tri, Quang Binh, Ha Tinh and Thua Thien-Hue provinces.

According to Thanh Nien, locals in Quang Tri plied a 20-kilometer stretch of coast between Vinh Thai commune and the town of Cua Tung, gathering dead fish and other creatures, some of which were rare deep-sea species. Though the mass death meant an easy catch for fisherman, many local residents feared the fish were contaminated. Quang Binh authorities later confirmed this fact.

“I have never seen anything like this in my 40 years of fishing. I don’t know what is happening to our sea and the fish,” angler Ngo Thanh Tuyen told Thanh Nien.

While residents awaited official word on the source of the contamination, rumors spread of animals dying from consuming the fish. In Quang Binh, a child was also admitted to hospital with poisoning symptoms from the fish.

Over the weekend, however, authorities honed in on Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Company, whose facilities are located in Ha Tinh's Vung Ang economic zone. The company's wastewater pipe, which lies 1.5 kilometers from Vung Ang, is believed to be the source of contamination. Though company official Khau Nhan Kiet claims the wastewater discharged from the pipe – amounting to approximately 12,000 liters a day – had already been treated before entering the sea, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh ordered an investigation into the pipe's contents, reports Thanh Nien.

Ho Anh Tuan, the man responsible for overseeing all economic zones in Ha Tinh province, affirmed that Formosa had received approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to install the pipeline, however deputy director of the ministry's environment department, Duong Hoang Tung, says the opposite, claiming Formosa was never licensed to have a wastewater pipe in the sea.

Officials from the environment ministry are now working with Formosa as well as the leaders of Vung Ang 1 Thermal Plant to further investigate the situation.

[Photo via VietnamNet]

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