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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Authorities come together to solve sea water dumping issues

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Holidaymakers relax along the somewhat cleaner shores of Sihanoukville. Heng Chivoan

Authorities come together to solve sea water dumping issues

The case of toxic sewage being drained into Sihanoukville’s waters remains a pressing issue for relevant authorities who argue they are working hard to resolve the problem.

Recently, Holiday Palace Casino and Hotel, which is located in district 2 of Sangkat 3 in Sihanoukville province, allegedly released contaminated water from its sewage system into a stream close to the above compound as well as into the sea.

Head of the environment department in Sihanoukville, Samut Sothearith, noticed the problem last week, and reported the incident to a local newspaper while deploying relevant personnel to study and inspect the area where the contaminated water was released.

Meanwhile, provincial bodies as well as the ministry are seeking partners, including Phnom Penh product supplier Heng Asia, who may be interested in constructing and implementing a joint aquifer to store the dirty water.

“From the original framework, the aquifer will require at least one month, and the authority is requesting owners of casinos and hotels to cooperate,” Sothearith said.

Lav Heng, owner of Ochheuteal Hotel in Sihanoukville, said that contamination over the sea water is still a prominent problem.

He continued, “The sewage that is released from my hotel into the water stream has a proper purifying system before it flows to the Otres beach area, but the hotels and restaurants that are close to the beach are still the problem.”

Yun Min, governor of Sihanoukville province, said on Tuesday that he is placing extra attention on the issue, stating that a long-term solution to contaminated water could cost up to $30 million.

“The provincial authority has found a temporary solution to this issue by stopping some sewage channels from entering the sea,” he explained.

“The Holiday Hotel and 7 storey Hotel are also cooperating in solving the problem as well,” Min said, adding that he has experienced bouts of insomnia over this issue as the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Environment have been rigorously investigating the problem.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon assured that the department would not leave the problem unsolved. He said the department has already created a new area for the contaminants to flow to, while there are plans to dig more ponds to store dirty liquids and safely dispose of them.

He continued that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport also supports the idea of installing a purifying aquifer in order to solve this problem.

“The Asia Development Bank (ADB) plans to construct a cleansing system that will be located close to the beach; all [relevant] Ministries will cooperate with the ADB.”

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