30 tons of frozen fish in central Vietnam found to contain toxic substance

By Nguyen Phuc, Thanh Nien News

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 Fish at a seafood store in Quang Tri Province, where a batch of scads has been tested positive for phenol. Photo: Nguyen Phuc/Thanh Nien
Quang Tri authorities have ordered a local seafood trader to destroy 30 tons of frozen mackerel scads (Decapterus lajang) contaminated with phenol, a harmful chemical substance.
The products were reportedly bought by the owner, only identified as T, soon after fish in the central region began to die. 
Tran Van Thanh, director of Quang Tri's health department, said inspectors had tested samples of six fish species at T’s store, including three batches of scads. One came up with a phenol content of 0.037 milligram per kilogram. 
Thanh said inspectors will test products of other major seafood traders in the province.
It was unclear how the scads, often caught around 15 kilometers offshore at 30 meters deep, were contaminated with phenol.
Phenol, or carbolic acid, is primarily used to synthesize plastics and related materials. The substance may cause harmful effects on the central nervous system, heart, liver and kidney, resulting in dysrhythmia, seizures and coma.
Vietnam is battling a prolonged fish kill disaster.
In April, hundreds of tons of fish were washed ashore in Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces, apparently killed by industrial effluents.

Frozen mackerel scads (Decapterus lajang) at a store in Quang Tri Province found to be contaminated with phenol on June 11, 2016. Photo: Thanh Loc

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Suspicion has centered on Hung Nghiep Formosa Steel Company, a major Taiwanese firm in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh. The company admitted it has a large sewage pipe going straight into the sea, but it claimed all its discharged wastewater had been treated.
Officials are expected to disclose inspection findings soon. 
According to some local fishermen,mackerel scads were not found among the dead fish in April.

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