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Thu Jul 30, 2015, 04:19 PM

Mass Die-Off of Fish Underscores Dangers of Palm Oil Industry in Guatemala [View all]

Mass Die-Off of Fish Underscores Dangers of Palm Oil Industry in Guatemala
Wednesday, 29 July 2015 00:00
By Jeff Abbott, Truthout | Report

Crossing the River Pasión today, nothing would appear out of the ordinary: Boats ferry people across the river while a woman washes clothing in the murky brown water. But a little over a month ago, the scene was different. On May 30, residents of the municipality of Sayaxché, in the Guatemalan department of Petén, awoke to find tens of thousands of fish floating in the river. For residents, it was clear who was responsible for the die-off: the local palm company, Reforestadora de Palma del Petén (REPSA), a member of the powerful Olmeca Group.

"We rely on the river for fish and our water," Hermelindo Choc, a resident of Arroyo Santa Maria, one of the towns most affected by the contamination, told Truthout. "But now we are afraid to drink the water and to eat the fish. The palm company has left us with nothing."

The environmental tragedy, which community members have called an ecocide, first began on April 29 when heavy rains caused the oxidation pools at the palm firm's finca to overflow, pouring into the river. The firm took steps to hide the impact of the pollution by collecting the dead fish that appeared in the river. But it could not conceal the mass die-off of river life, including 23 species of fish and 21 species of animals that feed on the fish.

The affected communities along the river have demanded that the company's operations be investigated and closed down because of the contamination. But the firm denied responsibility. On June 15, the company issued a statement stating that there was "never an ecocide," and that the company "was not responsible" for the contamination. But this claim contradicts both scientific evidence and the company's statements immediately following the incident.


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Reply Mass Die-Off of Fish Underscores Dangers of Palm Oil Industry in Guatemala [View all]
Judi Lynn Jul 2015 OP
Judi Lynn Jul 2015 #1
RiverLover Jul 2015 #2