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Rach Van River driven to die, unable to feed local residents
  • | VietNamNet |

Harmful, foul-smelling waste water has been discharged into the Rach Van River every day, which is the long lasting obsession of people in Long Son commune in Ba Ria- Vung Tau province.

Living together with waste water

Close to the seaport and not far from Thi Vai River, Rach Van River is located between Long Son commune in Vung Tau City and Tan Hai Commune of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, which is connected with the Ba Nanh Bridge.

Local residents on the two banks of Rach Van complain that they have been “living together with the pollution” when fish paste processing factories in Tan Hai regularly discharge untreated waste water into the river. They have lost their means of subsistence, because cattle-fish, crab and octopus they bred have died from the polluted river. A lot of local farmers have been bogged down in debts.

Pham Van Hai, a local resident of Long Son Commune, led Saigon Tiep Thi’s reporters on the 3 kilometer road from the Highway No 51 to Long Son Commune. Something was very unpleasant smelling from the areas along Rach Van River. “It (the smell) comes from the reservoir which contains the waste water from fish paste processing factories,” Hai said. “The waste water is killing a lot of farmed fish and shrimp”.

The smell tends to be stronger towards the sewer No 6. At the gate of the sewer, one could see the water in a light pink color which was created by the blood, dead fish and chemical substances.

Duong Van Phan, Head of the hamlet No 7 of Long Son Commune, said that local residents can know how much waste water is discharged just by sniffing the smell. “Dead fish and blood can only get dissolved in water after a long time,” he said. “We cannot have meals because of the stinking smell”.

Farmers becoming penniless

Phan Thi Ut, a local resident in Long Son Commune, said that since 2008, local residents have many times lodged complaints to the authorities, requesting to take actions to deal with the factories which cause the pollution. However, no progress has been made so far.

Officials from the environment protection agencies once came to the commune to learn about the “dead river passage”, and came to the conclusion that the river has been seriously polluted.

“You can see a lot of newly built villas, but don’t think that Long Son’s residents are getting well off. These are the villas of people from big cities,” a fisherman said. “Local residents have to sell land to urbanites and become debtors.”

The problem is that local residents now do not know what they should do to earn their living. Aquaculture, which once fed them, has become impossible, because the dirty waste water has killed all kinds of creatures. Oyster farmers in Long Son said that 95 percent of oysters died from the polluted water.

The fisherman named several farmers, who owe hundreds of millions of dong to the banks, because they have bad aquatic crops. Meanwhile, a lot of other people are incurring tens of millions of dong to the banks. Long Son’s people have suddenly become as poor as church mice with the heavy debts which they do not know when they can pay.

According to the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, nearly all private seafood processing companies are violating the regulations on environment protection. Their water treatment systems have been left idle, or have been running in a perfunctorily manner.

Meanwhile, Commander Le Van Ninh from the environment police department said that it is not simple to shut down factories, because it requires procedures and evidence. He said that enterprises will have to remove to other places and the relocation must be completed by July 1, 2014.

As such, local residents will still be together with the pollution for three more years.

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