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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Polluting ethanol plant reopens after refitting

Polluting ethanol plant reopens after refitting

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Security officers guard the entrance to MH Bio-Energy Group's bio-ethanol plant in Kandal province on the day of its closure on August 31. The facility was reopened Friday, officials said.

South Korea’s MH Bio-Energy lost 'a lot of money' in 11 days of closure after factory waste was blamed for a large fish kill

Perhaps the factory fulfilled what the Ministries required.

AN official at MH Bio-Energy Group told the Post Sunday that the government had given permission to the South Korean company to reopen its bio-ethanol factory in Kandal province's Duong village after meeting necessary safety requirements, despite previous complaints over pollution that led to its closure at the end of August.

Sar Peov, the head of the company's administration office, said the factory reopened Friday.

"The ... Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Environment allowed us to reopen," he said, adding that the company had fitted new waste-storage facilities, as requested by the ministries, to deal with a "malfunctioning" waste-disposal system.

Sat Samy, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, confirmed Sunday that the facility was allowed to reopen on Friday following the visit of a committee made up of both ministries.

"Perhaps the factory fulfilled what the ministries required," he said.

Sat Samy added that he had not seen the government's report following Friday's visit.

The factory - which refines dried cassava to produce bio-ethanol - was closed by the government on August 31 after it was thought to be producing toxic waste following the discovery of tens of thousands of dead fish in nearby waterways.

On Friday morning, the Post witnessed trucks loaded with fresh supplies of cassava queuing on National Highway 5 waiting to enter the factory.
Following 11 days of closure, Sar Peov said the company had "lost a lot of money" but was unable to put an exact figure on the financial impact following the recent controversy.

"However, we are not thinking much about the loss. It is good our company was allowed to reopen," he said, while moving to calm fears over the future safety of the plant. "Now we are operating as normal."

Shortly after closure of the factory, cassava farmers and dealers called for it to reopen, saying they would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, citing a lack of alternative buyers within the Kingdom.

Cassava production has developed quickly in Cambodia on the back of expectations that the crop could be sold across the border in Thailand. However, this year Thai officials have routinely placed blockades on the Kingdom's cassava exports.

Even when the border has opened to exports of the crop, farmers and dealers in Cambodia have complained that prices in Thailand are not high enough, often below the wholesale price.

MH Bio-Energy Director Lee Dong Jun previously said that the company expected to export 20,000 tonnes of bio-ethanol during the remainder of 2009 to add to the same volume it had already sold to buyers in Europe during the first half of the year.

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