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Landfill causing illness, crop failure, locals say

Landfill causing illness, crop failure, locals say

More than 400 families in Siem Reap’s Prasat Bakong district are raising a stink about an overflowing local landfill, which they said has caused serious health problems for residents and killed crops in the area.

The residents filed a complaint to the provincial government on December 19 demanding that authorities find a new location for the garbage dump, which is run by the company Global Action for Environment Awareness (GAEA), saying its stench has made the district’s Trampaing Thom commune area unlivable.

“The landfill is so huge now and it has affected the health of the villagers living around there,” Trampaing Thom commune chief Nong Neung said. “The smell from the rubbish is so bad, so we are waiting for the province to take action.”

Residents like villager Chan Srey, 39, said her children are afflicted with recurring fever and coughs due to their proximity to the dump site.

“We are so worried because my children are always ill, and we know that it’s from the landfill,” Srey said.

She added that apart from health problems, the landfill has also contaminated a nearby water supply, which has in turn allegedly killed some villagers’ crops.

Another villager, Phoung Van, 52, said the problem has been going on for years.

“It has been so many years, and it’s enough. It’s time for the company to stop putting garbage here because we need to be healthy, too,” Van said.

This is not the first complaint launched against GAEA, which is the only waste removal company in Siem Reap.

Early this year, Chreav commune residents accused the company of causing sicknesses and a widespread mosquito infestation in the area.

Prasat Bakong district governor Phoung Sam Ath met the villagers on Friday and said that authorities are working to find a solution to their grievances.

“We got the complaint and we are examining it,” Sam Ath said.

GAEA could not be reached for comment.

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