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Toxic waste plagues Toul Kork neighborhood

WATER stained with dark blue bubbles and with a strong chemical stench is affecting

1,800 Toul Kork households living downstream from the PPS industrial laundry complex.

According to residents of Boeung Kak Muay and Phnom Penh Thmei districts, in 1997

PPS began pumping its industrial waste water into a nearby stream and lake used by

many families for washing and bathing.

"They are polluting our house," said a female resident of the area who

asked not to be identified. "Our health is not safe here. I have got ill often

since this began to happen."

The woman points out a nearby stand of half-dead fruit trees beside a fish pond that

residents have had to abandon because to contaminated runoff from the stream as more

evidence of the impact of the polluted water.

According to an education officer who asked not to be named, a complaint filed by

the villagers more than a year ago has yet to be answered by Phnom Penh municipal

authorities.

"We've been seriously affected by this waste water," he said, reeling off

a litany of health disorders such as dizziness, fevers and chronic sore throats that

he attributes to close proximity and actual contact with the polluted water.

Heng Narith, Chief of the Ministry of Environment's Pollution Control Department,

told the Post that Ministry testing of the PPS waste water indicated the runoff poses

no serious health threat to local residents.

However, Narith said his department had ordered PPS's management to put into place

a waste-water treatment system by the end of December or face legal action.

Post attempts to contact PPS management prior to publication were unsuccessful.

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