The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) is scheduled to begin the removal of two chemical bombs in Svay Rieng province this morning, while a 227 kilogram Mk 82 bomb was safely removed yesterday from Kirirom National Park.
The chemical bombs contain 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS), a type of tear gas, and were dropped by the United States military before the Khmer Rouge takeover. Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen called the bombs “weapons of mass destruction”, and accused the US of not shouldering enough of the burden in clearing ordnance.
“These chemical bombs are very harmful to the comfort of the people because once the chemical leaks out, it will cause diseases – itchiness, respiratory problems and cancer,” said CMAC President Heng Ratana, though CS is not listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Ratana said the excavation and removal of the bombs will take 10 days, and 162 families in Romeas Hek district will need to temporarily relocate.
“Our experts will do their best to deal with both chemical bombs as soon as possible in order to impound them at the safe place temporarily and wait for the discussion with partners including the US,” Ratana said.
Meanwhile, in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Sruoch district, authorities removed an Mk-82, the second discovered in the area since last year.
“It is really huge . . . If it exploded, I do not know how many people would die,” said district Police Chief Say Bunthorn.