GOVERNMENT authorities have stated following an investigation that the death of 54 tonnes of farmed fish last week in Kandal province was not caused by leaks from a nearby bio-ethanol factory, despite protests from residents in Ponhea Leu district.
Sam Saroeun, spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, said Thursday that experts could not find any traces of toxic waste in the waters of the relevant section of the Tonle Sap, and that the deaths of the fish were most likely due to the river water heating up because of “climate change”.
“We found 3.1 milligrams of oxygen per litre of water,” he said. “There are no toxins in the river.”
Area fish farmers, however, still say the water became toxic due to leaking waste from MH Bio-Energy Co, a bio-ethanol factory in Ponhea Leu district’s Doung village.
Moth Pouv, 45, who said she lost 100 kilogrammes of fish, said that the factory was leaking waste into the river when the current was slow.
“My fish are dead because of the toxic waste from the factory, and not from climate change,” she added.
The plant was temporarily shut down in August last year after 60 tonnes of fish died due to toxins leaking into the river, but was reopened five weeks later following repairs undertaken on broken pipes.
The company paid 53 families around US$700,000 in compensation for lost fish stocks.
Officials from MH Bio-Energy Co could not be reached for comment Thursday.