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City shuts down oil factory

City shuts down oil factory

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An oil-reprocessing plant in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district has been ordered to close by provincial officials following complaints from villagers who say pollution from the site has been causing a range of health problems.

...THE SMELLS CONSTANTLY GAVE ME HEADACHES AND CAUSED ME TO VOMIT.

CITY authorities shut down an unlicensed motor oil reprocessing factory that had been operating for less than a month in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Sunday following compaints from local residents that pollution has caused an outbreak of health problems.

Hem Narith, deputy governor of Dankor district, said that he ordered the closure on Sunday afternoon after accompanying investigators to the factory site in Chom Chau commune, where he confirmed that the facility had no documentation.

“When I spoke with the staff that were working at the factory today, they said they didn’t know who owned the factory and they didn’t even know what the place was called, but they did admit that the factory had no licence or documentation of any kind,” he said. “Now that we’ve closed the factory, the next step is to track down the owner.”

The investigation was prompted by complaints filed Friday by people who live near the factory. For the past month, they say, a daily output of smoke and caustic odours had caused vomiting, headaches, itchy skin and respiratory problems.

“I don’t know which chemicals they used to refine the oil, but the smoke and the smells constantly gave me headaches and caused me to vomit,” said commune resident Sar Sampos. “I don’t know what effect it might have had on my pregnancy.”

Van Vannath, who lives 40 metres from the factory, said that more factories operating in the commune would help support local incomes, “but even so, we don’t need this factory”.

Soth Sath, chief of Chom Chau commune, said the operation could only reopen if its owner “allowed government experts to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, complied with the assessment’s findings and then obtained a legal permit”.

Yean Ly, director of the Association for the Protection and Development of Cambodia’s Environment, said that recycling motor oil could serve a beneficial purpose in reducing pollution, but that the process could also pose a threat to human health if conducted with obsolete equipment.

“The Cambodian government needs to subsidise the import of newer, cleaner technologies, because right now we are facing a shortage of cutting-edge equipment.”

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