Nearly 50 families living near a rubbish dump in Siem Reap province’s Prasat Bakong district on Tuesday demanded authorities quickly find an alternative site.
They said the current dump in Trapaing Thom commune’s Anlong Pi village is unhygienic, causing people to fall sick and producing a strong smell.
Loeng Mon, who has lived in Anlong Pi village for over 12 years, told The Post on Tuesday that the company responsible for collecting rubbish in Siem Reap city, GAEA Waste Management, has turned the area into a rubbish mountain. He said authorities had been inactive in addressing the issue.
“Every day, there is a very bad smell from the dump, which makes the lives of people residing nearby difficult. The site has made everybody sick, so villagers decided to block rubbish trucks from dumping waste at the site. Authorities have promised to resolve this issue time and again but they are just empty words. Nothing has been done,” he said.
Mon said authorities and GAEA Waste Management promised early last year that the site would be in use for just six months.
“But many rubbish trucks still come and dump on the site. I don’t know when exactly they will stop coming here,” he said.
Another local villager who requested anonymity said the dump has contaminated water sources, while paddy fields have been ravaged by dirty water from it. He also cited daily traffic accidents caused by greasy water from the site that he said made the village’s paths slippery.
“I request the Siem Reap provincial governor to find a new dump. All villagers want an alternative site because they can no longer stand the bad smell,” he said.
Trapaing Thom commune chief Soy Seiha acknowledged on Tuesday that the smell from the dump is overpowering, to such an extent that it can be smelled at his commune hall, which is around 1km away.
He said authorities are mulling over a new site either in Banteay Srei or Prasat Bakong districts, where only a small number of families currently reside.
“Last Friday, we received a letter from provincial and district governors and relevant departments calling us to a meeting to discuss the issue. From what I’ve heard, the new dump site would cover over 10ha in Prasat Bakong district’s Kandek commune because there are not many people living in the area. But this is just a plan. I’m not certain of it,” he said.
Loek Chamroeun, the dump site manager at GAEA Waste Management in Siem Reap province, acknowledged the overpowering smell and the dump’s impact on the health of villagers. He called on people to remain patient and give authorities and the company time to find a new site.
Chamroeun said that finding an alternative was the responsibility of authorities, while the company merely followed instruction.
“Several days ago, district and provincial authorities visited and informed villagers about the impacts because the current dump is already full. We cannot use the same site anymore. We need a new site but we haven’t found one yet. Therefore, we are forced to use the current site [temporarily]. We asked them to be patient for four more months. That’s what we have asked of them,” he said.
Prasat Bakong district governor So Platong told The Post on Tuesday that authorities were seeking a permanent landfill and currently assessing a potential site. But he declined to confirm a specific timeframe as to when any new dump would be operational, citing an ongoing study.
Platong acknowledged the current dump’s impact on the wellbeing of people living nearby. He said medical staff has been sent to provide check-ups and treatment for villagers every month.
“Regarding this issue, we are looking for a new dump. I want a site where we can dump rubbish forever, without having to move anywhere else or seek a new site again and again. We need to find a site far away from where people live,” he said.