People living around the landfill in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district are demanding that the capital’s main dumpsite be moved far from residential areas, and that standards be improved so long as it operates, as public health is being affected.
Authorities have said that studies for new rubbish tips are already being conducted.
“Piles of rubbish surrounding a drainage canal create a stench that can be smelled for miles around and create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies that carry disease. People living near and around the site are unable to bear it any more."
“The rubbish smells foul. It is really strong at night, and especially so when it rains and when trucks dump new rubbish. You can’t grow accustomed to it . . . I can’t bear it. The smell is so bad,” said Sok Lay, who lives some 3km from the dumpsite.
The 31.4ha landfill was created in 2009 after authorities closed the Stung Meanchey dumpsite. Tonnes of rubbish is collected every day from areas all across Phnom Penh.
Neath, 30, the owner of a restaurant in front of the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, said the Dangkor landfill must be relocated because the area is currently undergoing a wave redevelopment and had a lot of people residing there. It is also the location of an important tourist site, he said.
“Tourists who come to visit the killing fields always ask about the bad smell. Sometimes they ask why there are so many flies? Some tourists have felt disgusted and almost did not eat at my restaurant.”
A 2015 research document by the Parliamentary Institute of Cambodia said that compared with Vietnam and Thailand, the Kingdom still has limited rubbish management methods and hygiene techniques.
Most dumpsites in Cambodia are located in areas prone to flooding, which can contaminate the environment through toxic substances infiltrating the water table. This can lead to surrounding rice fields being polluted.
People living in nearby areas may also face dangers to health from flying insects that spread disease.
Research in 2015 by the Institute of Technology of Cambodia funded by the Asia Foundation based in the US found that Phnom Penh’s waste is set to double, with around 3,000 tonnes produced every day by 2030.
It also raised concerns that the capital will run out of waste-storage capacity in 2020, while Phnom Penh authorities have said there are plans for new dumpsites as Dankgkor nears capacity.
Keo Channarith, the director of the Dangkor Dumpsite Management Committee, told The Post on Tuesday that the landfill will be full by the end of 2020 or early 2021.
He said authorities are conducting studies on new locations and on new techniques for better waste disposal.
A new dump must be created before the Dangkor site is unable to store any more rubbish, Channarith said.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey told The Post on Tuesday that the authorities are studying plans for two or three new dumpsites, but he could not go into the details.
He said people should not worry about the locations of the new sites or regarding technical issues as the authorities have already taken such concerns into account.
“Everything is ready. I can just say that please don’t worry about the dumping of rubbish when Dangkor is full as the authorities have taken into account all factors,” he said.