Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dead fish raise suspicions




Dead fish raise suspicions

Dead fish raise suspicions

2-STORY-1.jpg
2-STORY-1.jpg

A Korean-owned biofuel factory is blamed by local officials and

villagers for dead fish and polluted water in the province's Samrong

Lake

HENG CHIVOAN

Fishermen cross the Samrong Lake in Kandal province Monday amid a sea of green scum and alleged pollutants.

Provincial officials and local villagers in Kandal province claim liquid waste from a Korean-owned bio-fuel factory has polluted a public lake and poisoned tonnes of fish.

Tong Simy, governor of Ponhea Leu district, said polluted water from a poorly designed waste pond at the MH Bio Energy Co was responsible for the poisoning of fish in the 325-hectare Samrong Lake.

He said the company could face closure if it does not take steps to stop the waste leakage.

"It is our responsibility ... to protect our villagers," Tong Simy told the Post Monday. "I think the company has been careless, and we will ask the government to intervene if the pollution continues."

Lee Dong Jun, executive director of MH Bio Energy, denied the allegation and complained about media coverage of villagers' complaints.

Company denials

"What was reported in local newspapers is not real information," he told the Post Monday.

"We have our own pond for liquid waste from the factory. I think people are just exaggerating. I can't believe reporters would make up a story like this."

BH Bio Energy produces ethanol for export and has operated in Kandal province since July.

Tong Simy said Samrong and Prek Phnov communes have been most affected by the waste leakage. Villagers depend on the lake for fish, farming and drinking water.

"We must protect our fishermen and those who need water for farming and livestock," Tong Simy  said, adding that environmental officials have been informed of the pollution.

WE DON’T REALLY TRUST THE COMPANY BECAUSE OUR FISH CONTINUE TO DIE.

"We are investigating the matter, and we will watch the activities of the company closely," he said.

Local villagers say hundreds of families have been affected by the waste leakage and that they are afraid to continue using water from Samrong Lake.

So Tharin, 55, a resident of Duong village in Prek Phnov commune, said he suffered skin irritations after inspecting dead fish from the lake.

"I saw waste water flowing from a pipe at the factory into the lake, and some of the fish have been poisoned," he said.

Chao Bun Thong, chief of Duong village, said 60 percent of residents in his village are fishermen and rely on Samrong Lake for their livelihoods.

"I have seen the dead fish, and I've made a report to several government ministries," he said.

Chao Bun Thong said he is concerned about potential damage to his village's rice fields and has assigned local residents to watch the bio-fuel factory.

"We don't really trust the company because our fish continue to die," he said. He added that the company has started shipping excess waste water from the company pond to Kampong Speu.

Company head Lee Dong Jun said his company has produced bio-fuels for 30 years and has a strict policy of protecting the environment.

"My business is a legal business and represents the future of Cambodia's economy," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,