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Oil recycler seeks to reopen

Oil recycler seeks to reopen

Makeshift smokestacks loom over a factory in Dangkor district shut down for environmental and licensing violations on January 10. Its Chinese owners promise a cleaner comeback.

THE unlicensed motor oil recycling factory in Phnom Penh’s Dang-kor district that was shut down after pollution complaints from nearby residents is to begin clean and certified operations after Chinese New Year next month, a factory representative said Sunday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a representative of the Tian Bao Company, which owns the factory, said that his firm would modify the factory to make it more environmentally friendly.

“We are currently installing higher smoke stacks and an emissions-management system, as well as asking for a licence from the government to reopen the factory next month after the Chinese New Year,” the anonymous source said.

Those who lived near the factory during the time it was operating, however, said they are greatly distressed at the thought of the factory reopening.
“We need healthier living, not a polluting factory,” said Trapaing Thluen village Chief Kong Chhorn. “The villagers here can still smell the place.”

Authorities launched an investigation of the factory after hearing a complaint filed earlier this month by hundreds of residents of Trapaing Thlueng village who lived near the facility, which turned used motor oil into a form of recycled fuel. Villagers said the factory released a daily blanket of smog and acrid smells that caused widespread vomiting, respiratory problems and headaches.

A search of the premises after the factory’s January 10 closure uncovered 8,000 litres of used motor oil waiting to be processed, and the factory’s manager, Chinese national Chen Houngo, said that the factory produced 8,000 litres of fuel in the month it was allowed to operate. The whereabouts of this fuel are unknown, and authorities say that the factory’s operators may have already sold it illegally.

Hem Narith, deputy governor of Dangkor district, said that continuing uncertainties such as these mean that city authorities will watch the factory and its owners all the more closely.

“We will be swift in cracking down on this factory if they do anything illegal after reopening it, and then we will take those responsible to court,” he said.