VILLAGERS in a Kandal province commune who say they lost more than 54 tonnes of fish in a mass die-off last week have asked authorities to investigate a nearby bio-ethanol factory that was temporarily shut down last year over environmental concerns.
The 43 families in Prek Phnov commune, Ponhea Leu district said they suspect a chemical spill may be to blame for the kill.
“I know [the fish] were killed by pollution from the factory. If there was no pollution, my fish would not be dead,” said Moth Pov, a local fisherman.
Villagers in the same commune complained last year that a chemical spill led to the deaths of roughly 60 tonnes of fish.
Representatives of a nearby bio-ethanol factory owned by MH Bio-Energy Group acknowledged that a broken water-treatment system resulted in a spill last August, but denied that the spill had killed the fish.
In response to the most recent allegations, Fisheries Administration officials said Sunday that it was too early to lay blame. Samples from the water and dead fish are being examined, and results are expected within “a few days”, said Nao Thuok, the administration’s director general.
“We can’t accuse this factory, even though its pollution went into the river to make fish die before. We need to investigate, and the results will come,” Nao Thuok said.
Officials with MH Bio-Energy could not be reached for comment Sunday.