Hydropower plant water discharge kills fish en masse in northern Vietnam

A large number of farm-raised fish in the northern provinces of Hoa Binh and Phu Tho were killed after a major hydroelectric plant discharged its water earlier this week, resulting in heavy losses for local farmers.

The water discharge of the Hoa Binh hydroelectric dam on July 19 was responsible for the mass fish deaths along the Da River, farmers and officials said.

In Xuan Loc Commune, Thanh Thuy District, Phu Tho, fish continued dying on Saturday, some three days after the operator of the dam released its water.

Truong Tien Dung, a resident of the commune, stated he had lost the entire number of fish at his farm.

“The deaths began on Wednesday night with smaller fish,” Dung recalled.

After failing to save his fish with all possible measures, the farmer was forced to sell as many of the remaining fish as he could to minimize his loss.

Duong Tien Dung nets the dead fish at his farm in Phu Tho Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Dung’s fish had previously sold at VND80,000 (US$3.53) to VND100,000 ($4.41) per kilogram, he said, adding that no one would now want to buy even when they were offered at VND30,000 ($1.32) a kilogram.

In Doan Ha Commune, Thanh Thuy District, all seven farmers were affected by the disaster.

Hoang Van Cuong, one of the victims, said that nine out of his 30 cages of fish had been killed – and still counting.

He expected losses worth up to VND500 million ($22,071).

Some 90 cages of fish raised in Hop Thanh Commune, Ky Son District, Hoa Binh also suffered the same fate.

“The fish deaths occurred very close to our harvest day,” Le Van Bao, a local farmer, sighed.

Bao had spent some VND4 billion ($176,574) on his aquaculture activities since 2015, he said, noting that about 15 other farmers have also fallen victim to the incident.

The mass fish deaths also affect the operation of Hoang Van Cuong in Thanh Thuy District, Phu Tho. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Local farmers said that the operator of the Hoa Binh hydroelectric plant only gave them a two-day heads-up, which was not enough for them to cope with the water discharge.

The massive water release then suffocated their fish, the farmers said.

Nguyen Van Mau, chairman of the People’s Committee in Hop Thanh Commune, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Saturday evening that the large volume of water had caused the fish to be suffocated.

Local authorities have visited the affected households to assess their situation, Mau added.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Son, director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Phu Tho, competent agencies have been ordered to estimate the losses before proposing suitable assistance for the victims.

A large number of fish have been killed in Hoa Binh Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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