Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Reckless mining in Prey Lang takes toll on environment

Reckless mining in Prey Lang takes toll on environment

Reckless mining in Prey Lang takes toll on environment

120508_03

Villagers in Kratie and Kampong Thom provinces are experiencing health problems because of mining at sites such as this one in the Prey Lang forest, according to a local rights group. Photograph: supplied

Chemical substances used in about 3,000 mining drills operating in the Prey Lang forest in Kratie and Kampong Thom provinces are wreaking environmental havoc and making people sick, a report by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights released yesterday says.

Substances used by a number of Chinese-run companies, businessmen and villagers to mine gold have caused 70 per cent of the trees in the area to die, and the contamination of nearby rivers and lakes, according to the group.

“Starting a year ago, villagers and animals in the community began having a lot of health problems they never used to, and at least 50 buffaloes and cows have died from drinking river water,” the report states.

The Steung Chinet River, the Kam­­­­pong Thmar River in Kampong Thom and a stretch of the Mekong River in Kratie have been contaminated, it says, without identifying the chemicals at fault.

CCHR co-ordinator for public forums Chhim Savuth alleged local authorities were being bribed by businessmen to let them mine as they pleased.

“The authorities are not finding measures against the anarchical digging from mining. Instead, soldiers and environment officers are collaborating with businessmen to destroy the natural resources,” he said.

In Kratie’s Sambor district, soldiers took monthly mining bribes from businessmen of 50,000 riel (US$12.50) for small machines and 80,000 (US$20) to 100,000 riel (US$25) for large machines, he alleged.

Chhum Yim, a representative of villagers in Sandan district, said residents had previously mined the area, but only with natural substances, adding that the chemicals used by companies since 2009 were having negative effects on the community.

Those effects were worsening day by day, he said.

“If the government does not take timely action, not only will our villagers have health problems, our natural resources will be destroyed,” he said.

Sandan district governor Sim Vanna said the companies had been granted licences by the government for mining, but denied any knowledge of local officials being bribed.

Sambor district governor Seng Sotha attributed the negative impact of digging to unlicensed villagers, saying they affected the environment.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • 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

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release