The government has yet to release the results of toxicity tests conducted in the area of a chemical spill in Kandal province that killed thousands of fish in late August.
The MH Bio-Energy Group, which was responsible for the spill, has offered affected villagers compensation, however, giving a total of US$700,000 to 53 fishing families in the villages of Doung and Krous.
“The people are very happy to have received the compensation from the factory, and they hope that they will reopen their fisheries soon,” Seng Thim, director of Bassac fisheries, said Wednesday.
Local fishermen, however, said the company’s compensation was not enough to assuage their concerns about the spill.
Meas Saron, 41, a fisherman in Doung village who received $700 in compensation, said that he was grateful for the money but anxious to get the government test results.
“We are still concerned about the water and its effects on health because authorities warned us not to use the river until test results are released.
At this point, we have yet to see these results,” he said.
Sixty-five year old Lam Yiang Try, who lost more than 500 kilograms of fish in the spill, said that he wants to use the compensation money to buy and raise new fish but is awaiting the test results first before he does so.
“For now, we are afraid of reopening our commercial fish farms,” he said.
Chao Bun Thong, chief of Duong village, said that after the spill, authorities from the Fisheries Administration said the water contained high levels of ammonia and other chemicals that are dangerous to human health.
“We are concerned as to when the water will become normal again and no longer be a threat to our health,” he said.
Lonh Hell, director of the Department of Pollution Control at the Ministry of Environment, declined to comment on the test results Wednesday. “If you want to interview me or view the laboratory results, please write an official letter to my senior minister first,” he said.