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Residents of Memot angry that battery furnace yet to be closed

RESIDENTS of Kampong Cham province’s Memot district on Thursday expressed frustration with the fact that a factory blamed for harming the health of families living nearby has continued to operate, even though officials ordered its closure on Wednesday.

Chork Roth, a representative of more than 100 families who filed complaints Tuesday with local officials and the NGO Adhoc against the factory, which is equipped to melt down batteries for the production of lead, said Thursday that he had seen two cartloads of coal and four cartloads of batteries being brought into the factory for processing.

“The sound of the machinery crushing batteries can still be heard, and smog was coming from [the factory’s] furnace on Wednesday,” he said.

“Even this morning, the factory still continues to melt down recycled batteries. We are afraid that the authorities told us a lie.”

EVEN THIS MORNING , THE FACTORY STILL CONTINUES TO MELT DOWN... BATTERIES."

Residents had accused pollution from the factory of causing nausea, vomiting, skin allergies, stomachaches and diarrhoea, among other ailments. Memot district governor Chek Sa Om said Wednesday that public health experts had examined the factory and the health of local villagers before determining that its furnace was emitting pollutants.
Chek Sa Om could not be reached for comment on Thursday, nor could the owner of the factory, Bin Kea.

Suon Dy, director of the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy, said the reason for the delay in the shutdown could be simple bureaucracy.

“The provincial governor just signed the termination of the license of the company on Wednesday, so the letter of termination may not have arrived in the hand of the factory owner yet,” he said.

He said, though, that the factory would be shut down because “it has breached the agreement in which it promised not to harm the environment and the people’s health”.

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