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

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The