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Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

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Tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach. Supplied

Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said.

He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s beaches since Tuesday.

“The hyacinth we collected from O’chheutal beach alone amounted to 77 tonnes. We will continue removing the weeds that are still ‘invading’ other beaches too, namely O’tres beach and Ek Reach beach,” he said, noting all the ‘rubbish’ has been dumped at a landfill outside Sihanoukville.

The Preah Sihanouk provincial hall statement last week said the plants came from neighbouring countries on October 9.

It advised people ‘not to worry about the invasive plants damaging the quality of seawater and the beach’.

It also noted ‘the invasion only disrupts the aesthetics of the beach for a short time, and hence, it would return to normal once the waste has been removed completely.

The water hyacinth is a free-floating aquatic plant with broad, thick, glossy, ovate leaves that may rise above the surface of the water as high as a metre. It can even grow more than 1.5 metres above the water level under sufficient nutrient supply and expand to twice the amount in two weeks.

The invasive water weed blocks waterways affects navigation and drainage and increases siltation and flooding. The plant is a native of the Amazon, but tolerates a wide range of climatic and aquatic conditions, allowing world-wide infestation across a range of latitudes and climates.

‘Other sources’

There is growing concern over the emergence of pollutants from other sources which could potentially decrease the quality of seawater in the province.

Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and Minister of Environment Say Sam Al on Friday visited Preah Sihanouk to address the problem.

Upon inspecting and discussing with the experts, the ministers established three measures aimed at preventing the pollutants from flowing into the sea.

They are – restoring the 16ha water cleaning station at O’chheuteal, constructing a reservoir and water pumping station at O’cham Na and O’chhne Pram Pi Choan, and preparing a water filter system at the streams, starting from O’mariyu.

Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said: “The ministers found solutions to tackle the liquid waste problem in order to improve the city’s (Sihanoukville’s) aesthetics.”

Construction has been mushrooming in Preah Sihanouk due to constant foreign investments pouring in. But with development comes environmental problems.

Many of the construction projects resulted in waste being dumped into water bodies which end up at the sea, polluting the beach along the way.