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Vietnam Fish Deaths Cast Suspicion on Formosa Steel Plant

By Linh Tong Saturday April 30, 2016    6:57 PM
In central Vietnam, fish are dying on a massive scale, and locals suspect pollution is the cause.

In addition to the off-shore conflict in the South China Sea, Vietnamese citizens now have to face another disaster on the country’s central coast. Unprecedented fish kills have been discovered along the beaches of four central coastal provinces, namely Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Quang Binh, and Hue. Among the dead fish are not only small, shallow water fish, but also rare species living in deep water and far offshore.

Vnexpress, a Vietnamese news agency, cited the Vietnam Directorate of Fisheries as saying that "The total loss reached 4.7 billion dong (around $200,000) in less than one week, including 37,200 brood fish, 900,000 brood shrimps, and 200,000 brood clams in Ha Tinh Province. Hue also lost 5,900 brood fishes."

Then, on April 24, a 100 kg whale was also found dead on the coast of Hue Province. According to the coastal citizens, this is an abnormal phenomenon, since previously discovered dead whales had been much larger and presumably died from old age. Locals are concerned that this small whale also died from poisoned water, along with the other fish in the mass fish kills along the central coast this month. This raised alarm among the citizens since it offered proof of the massive extent of the poisoned area.

Never in their life have local fishermen caught fish so easily and in such a great amount, and yet felt so frustrated and desperate. No one dares to eat the fish. Some who tried have already had to go the hospital.

On April 26, five divers with the Nibelc company, a construction company contract by Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp (an offshoot of the Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group) had to be hospitalized suspiciously, allegedly due to pollution dumped by Formosa industrial site into the sea water in Ha Tinh. Previously, on April 24, Le Van Ngay, another Nibelc diver, died after diving in the water near the Formosa project.

While the government has been slow in responding and investigating the fish deaths, the citizens and reporters of VTV, together with the Investigation Center of Ha Tinh, conducted a public experiment with the polluted sea water. The experiment observed two normal, living fish dying within two minutes of swimming in the water sample. The first official conclusion from the Vietnam Ministry of ... [Full Story]


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