Kun Nhem the director-general of the General Department of Customs and Excise, said on Sunday that the owner of a Cambodian business is being questioned over the discovery last week of 83 plastic-rubbish filled containers at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.
Nhem told The Post that authorities were investigating the company, which hired Chinese employees, over its involvement in illegally importing a reported 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste from the US and Canada.
The waste would be returned to its countries of origin and fines issued when the probe is completed.
“Authorities are investigating the company to ascertain whether Chinese nationals have ownership. This is still at the investigation stage. The results will be announced shortly.
“We cannot reveal the name of the company as the investigation is ongoing,” Nhem said, adding that the waste was brought over in different phases since the end of last year.
Jenn Gearey, the communications manager at Environment and Climate Change Canada, told The Post on Saturday via email that the Canadian government was aware of the concerns raised by its Cambodian counterpart.
The Canadian government has reached out to Cambodian officials through the Canadian embassy in Phnom Penh and is following the matter closely, she said.
“Canada’s government is taking action to reduce plastic waste and support the development of innovative solutions, including spending $100million to help developing countries to prevent and manage plastic pollution.
“The government of Canada is committed to finding ways to ensure plastic is recycled properly, so it doesn’t end up in landfills or in our oceans, lakes, rivers and environment,” Gearey said.
Nhem said cross-referencing the shipping company’s documents at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port with those from ports that had earlier received the containers revealed the waste had originated in the US and Canada.
He told The Post that checks had revealed the containers did not hold poisonous or radioactive substances.
“The waste does smell. The Ministry of Environment has sent it for laboratory tests, with the results expected next week,” Nhem said.
Cheap Sotheary, the coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Preah Sihanouk province, praised authorities for revealing the results of the investigation to manage public concerns.