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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fish to dry, but how did they die?

Fish to dry, but how did they die?

FISHERIES officials have launched an investigation after 54 tonnes of farmed fish were found dead this week in Kandal province, roughly a kilometre away from a bio-ethanol factory temporarily shut down last year over environmental concerns.

Manh Pov, deputy chief of the Chaktomuk Inspectorate of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Administration, said the dead fish were found in a
section of the Tonle Sap river in Ponhea Leu district Wednesday.

“We are investigating the source of the poisoning and trying to find what is responsible,” Manh Pov said.

Some villagers said they were told by authorities that “climate change” is responsible for the fish kill – an assertion Manh Pov said he never made.
“They [officials] told me they can’t help us because it is a natural disaster and they can’t compensate us,” said villager Taing Rin.

Moth Pov, a villager from Doung village in Prek Phnov commune, said she suspected a chemical spill may be to blame.

“I understand when fish die naturally and when they die because of chemicals,” said Moth Pov, who said she lost 7 tonnes of fish.

Last August, authorities temporarily shut down a bio-ethanol plant owned by MH Bio-Energy Group when villagers said that toxic waste from the
factory killed roughly 60 tonnes of fish in the same area.

Company representatives acknowledged a broken water-treatment system resulted in a spill, but denied that it was responsible for the fish deaths.
A company official declined to comment on the recent deaths when contacted Thursday.

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