Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Little action taken on Pailin cassava producers' pollution

Little action taken on Pailin cassava producers' pollution

Water trickles through an area used to process and dry cassava near a stream in Pailin’s O’Tavao commune in March last year. National Police
Water trickles through an area used to process and dry cassava near a stream in Pailin’s O’Tavao commune in March last year. National Police

Little action taken on Pailin cassava producers' pollution

Almost a year after cassava producers in Pailin were fingered as the source of pollution in a local water source, little has been done to address the problem, commune officials said yesterday, while affected villagers are being forced to buy bottled water to avoid getting ill.

In March last year, local officials in Pailin’s O’Tavao commune said that waste from cassava production, spilling from nine different businesses, had seeped into two nearby creeks that flow through Pailin and Ratanak Mondol district in Battambang.

The waste had killed fish and polluted drinking water, they said, affecting 300 families in Ratanak Mondol district’s Treng commune, many of whom fell ill after eating the fish.

As a remedy, businesses at the time had agreed to build ponds near their production facilities in which to dump the waste and reduce the risk of pollution.

But contacted yesterday, O’Tavao commune chief Sourn Orn said the companies had built only two ponds to collect their waste, while the number of cassava producers in the area had swollen to 14.

“Some ponds are too small to store the waste, so it flows everywhere in the canal during the rainy season,” he added.

According to a report from the World Heath Organization, prior to its preparation for human consumption, cassava can contain dangerous levels of cyanide.

Orn said one of the ponds had overflowed two weeks ago, affecting 30 people living near the river, although it was unclear how many had become ill.

Communities had been forced to buy bottled water, or to build wells in the area, he said, both options were more than locals could afford, with wells typically being shared by up to 25 families.

Kem Sokha, director of Pailin’s Environment Department, said the newly created ponds had been installed too close to the canal.

“Some cassava owners have built their ponds next to the canal, that’s why it is easier for the chemicals to flow into the canal, especially during the rainy season,” adding that they will be asked to move their ponds further away from the canal.

Sokha said a complaint had been filed to the provincial court after one producer, whose pond wall had recently breached, had refused to meet with authorities despite multiple requests.

For those producers who have not built ponds, action will soon be taken, he said, though the form of such action was unspecified.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports