(Ed. NOTE: The following was a front page story in the Friday, April 11, 1980 issue of Amandala. The story was headed CHEMICAL KILLS BELIZE RIVER FISH: NOBODY’S TALKING.)
BELIZE CITY, Fri. April 11 (1980)– Belizeans were somewhat taken aback this Tuesday morning by a low-key Ministry of Health release that they should not eat dead fish which were floating in the river.
The “normal” thing would have been to headline on the radio news the FACT that a large quantity of fish had been killed by chemical waste disposed of in the Belize River and then go on from there to issue the necessary health warnings.
The people at the Fisheries Department are tight-lipped where the quantity and species of the dead fish are concerned.
We conclude that the government is in a cover-up operation, as was the case, for instance in the flour crisis. This is bad public relations on government’s part.
The first informant pointed the finger at Belize Steel Co., but a subsequent report blamed the Quinto Industry Co., who manufacture nails. These are companies located around Mile 2 (Northern Highway) on the banks of the Belize River as you leave Belize City. The industrial belt begins with Belize Flour Mills, Quinto Industry, Renco Battery Manufacturers (on the other side of the road), Belize Tile Factory, Shell Depot, Travellers Refinery, Charger Brewing Company, Comsa, Belize Steel, and Roses.
Whoever the guilty party may be, the major importance of the incident is not, to our mind, that the fish in question have died, but that it pinpoints a growing problem of industrial pollution of our rivers.
Our legislators will now have to take counsel fairly, without bias or prejudice, and decide what to do in the future to protect the environment nationwide.