Bati district authorities in Takeo province have called on the public to avoid visiting a stone quarry on Chambab Mountain in Tnort commune as the pit is contaminated with chemical residue from trinitrotoluene (TNT) used to break up rocks.
Deputy district police chief Chhorn Troeun told The Post on August 11 that authorities instructed people who visited the site not to return, citing dangers posed by the chemicals and a possible spread of Covid-19 from large-scale gatherings.
“The pit is also harmful to the public’s health as there is chemical residue from the explosives, which were used to break up the rocks. So the area is off limits,” he said.
The quarry was the result of a private company using explosives to break up rocks and take them away. However, the provincial administration suspended the company’s operations as the work affected residents near the site.
After the quarry was abandoned, it filled with water and attracted visitors who were unaware of the hidden dangers at the site. The place became an attraction about two years ago.
He added that closing the quarry was also in line with the government’s circular to temporarily shut all resorts nationwide in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Troeun warned that people who defy the government’s order and continue to visit the site during the pandemic would face legal action.
An investigation conducted by district authorities in 2019 revealed that Chambab Mountain water was contaminated with chemical residue from TNT.
Reasmey Tan, deputy director of the Institute of Technology of Cambodia’s Research and Innovation Centre, told The Post on August 11 that in general, quarries made by explosives contained calcimorphic substances and left chemical residue from the TNT. The level of contamination could not be determined accurately until samples from the area were tested.
“TNT is an explosive that can cause serious harm, including death. The remnants of this substance can cause neurological abnormalities, including headaches and dizziness,” Reasmey said.
Reasmey said that after TNT was used and the rocks or ore were removed, the site left deep pits which filled with water, but the water is contaminated by the residual chemicals from the excavation work.