Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cyanide ‘found in samples’




Cyanide ‘found in samples’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Sick villagers are treated for water poisoning at Kratie Provincial Hospital earlier this month. Photo supplied

Cyanide ‘found in samples’

A senior official at the Ministry of Environment said on Thursday analysis of blood samples from victims of Kratie province’s contaminated water incident earlier this month have confirmed the presence of cyanide, albeit at very low levels.

Tin Ponlok, the Ministry of Environment’s secretary-general at the General Secretariat of the National Council for Sustainable Development, told reporters that while he dared not comment about the case as yet, early results showed the level of cyanide “is not at a high level in the samples”.

Ponlok said: “I do not know how much cyanide it takes to harm or kill someone, so now we are waiting for the experts to examine the results.”

He said experts from the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Mines and Energy are working together on a detailed report based on the analysis of the victims’ blood samples in order to submit it to the government for evaluation.

However, despite the low levels, the discovery by the Singapore laboratory of cyanide in the blood samples is in line with a statement made by Minister of Industry and Handicrafts Cham Prasidh last Thursday.

He had said that besides chromium and nitrite, cyanide was found in a water sample taken from the Prek Te and Korki rivers in Kratie’s Chet Borey district. The cyanide, he said, is used in gold mining and poses a serious threat to people’s health and the environment.

Its discovery in the water prompted investigation teams to look into mine shafts located in neighbouring Mondulkiri province, where a Chinese company, Rong Cheng Industrial (Cambodia) Co Ltd, is constructing a gold mine shaft. It is suspected of secretly dumping the waste containing cyanide into the stream.

Speaking via his interpreter, Yin Sok Meng, the deputy director of Rong Cheng, Le Man Gun, denied that his company had anything to do with the contamination. He said it had not yet begun operating the gold mine shaft, and did not import any cyanide.

“At the moment, our company is constructing the site and has not drilled the shaft yet. We have also not imported any cyanide. We are happy to cooperate with the authorities in this case,” Man Gun said.

According to him, a team of officials arrived at the company’s site on Thursday morning to carry out an inspection and take samples.

“The company is not too concerned as we have done nothing wrong and have no cyanide on site either,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials in Kratie’s Chet Borey, who are awaiting the results of the blood tests, have not withdrawn the ban on water consumption from sources in the surrounding area.

Hang Chandy, Chet Borey district governor, said local authorities have suggested that expert institutions monitor the Prek Te and Korki rivers to ascertain if the contamination was continuing. He said if it had declined to a level that would not affect the health of the people, the ban should be lifted so that the villagers can use the water in the stream.

“For now, the authorities are continuing to supply the villagers with clean water. We will increase the construction of wells so the people can use water from them instead of the rivers,” Chandy said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15

  • CNRP activist freed; Sam Rainsy pledges return to Kingdom

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday released former CNRP activist Oeur Narith on bail after the court ended its questioning on suspicion of receiving money from abroad and plotting to overthrow the government, according to the authorities. National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun confirmed

  • Hun Sen says developing nations ‘targets of rivalry’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke at the virtual UN General Assembly on Monday, saying that developing nations often become targets of punishment for their imperfections when they don’t rise to the standards of developed countries. He said rivalries between superpowers often hamper developing countries’