The Kratie provincial Department of Environment has sent a water sample from a Kratie town lake to the Ministry of Environment to test for chemicals after a cassava processing factory released wastewater into it.
Provincial Department of Environment director Duong Chhay Savuth on Monday said villagers had expressed surprise the previous day after seeing that Boeung Romlech lake contained contaminated water which killed fish, allegedly from wastewater released from South Korean-owned Singsong Industrial (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s cassava factory.
He said his department had worked with commune and town authorities and taken a water sample from the lake near the factory and sent it to the Ministry of Environment on Monday morning to test for chemicals.
However, Chhay Savuth said the factory on Sunday acknowledged that they had released a small amount of wastewater into the lake to test its drainage system, but that the water was “clean” and the lake could contain “stinky water” from the drainage system, which had not been used for a long time.
“We have not made any conclusions on whether [the lake’s water] is poisonous. We’ll have to wait for the results of the sample. It will take some time."
“Our department confirmed that wastewater was released [from the factory into the lake]. However, we cannot confirm if the fish died from intoxication, as temperatures are now rising in Kratie province and the lake is currently shallow,” he said, adding that dead fish tended to appear on the lake’s shore during hot season.
Chheun Rith, O’Russey commune chief, said the lake spans 30ha across Kratie town’s Kratie, Roka Kandal and O’Russey communes, the latter of which had been affected the most.
He said the lake is a source of fish and water for locals and animals, so villagers expressed concerns over the issue. No health problems had been reported.
“It is merely a concern – there is no apparent threat to anyone’s health or life for the moment. I visited the lake and saw that the water had turned a bit brown. Such water is good for farming, but it is a concern for animals and villagers. Bathing in it can cause itchiness,” he said.
Kratie town governor Yin Vannak said authorities had told the cassava factory’s administration many times to inform them in advance before releasing any wastewater.
“As the town authorities, we will not allow the company to operate in a manner that affects locals, so we will always advise them regarding technical standards when there is an issue,” he said.
Singsong factory administrative director Luon Mono Sela told The Post that the factory had merely released clean water, but through an old drainage system that had not been used for months, to test its pipes.
The company plans to use the drainage system again in the near future when the factory is able to clean its wastewater before releasing it into the lake.
He claimed the accusations against the company were due to wastewater remnants in the pipes.
When the factory’s clean water was released, the waste in the pipes contaminated the water as it poured into the lake, he said, making a relatively low amount of fish surface.
“I went [to the lake] on February 17 and 18, but I did not see any dead fish in the lake,” he said.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said he was unaware of a lake water sample sent to the ministry.