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Sihanoukville authorities announce sewage crackdown

Tourists relax on a beach in the coastal province of Preah Sihanoukville, where the deputy governor has urged establishments to clean up their operations to ensure sewage doesn’t flow into the sea.
Tourists relax on a beach in the coastal province of Preah Sihanoukville, where the deputy governor has urged establishments to clean up their operations to ensure sewage doesn’t flow into the sea. Scott Rotzoll

Sihanoukville authorities announce sewage crackdown

Sihanoukville officials have prioritised cracking down on businesses that allow sewage to drain into the sea, deputy governor Chhin Seng Nguon said yesterday.

Provincial authorities are fining violators and getting them to build small reservoirs for their waste, Nguon said. While sewage in the seawater has long been a problem in Sihanoukville, the problem has gotten worse lately, according to the local office of rights group Licadho.

“When we see [the violation], we will fine,” said Nguon, adding that locally owned businesses are responsible for most of the sewage pollution. Nguon did not say how many hotels and restaurants have been fined recently.

He added that most of the waste near the beach flows into a purification reservoir that had been funded by the Asian Development Bank. However, Licadho member Boun Narith said that the reservoir is uphill from multiple businesses and their sewage flows in the opposite direction – into the sea.

“Sihanoukville used to have beautiful beaches, but now it is not beautiful,” said Narith. “Tourists are starting to avoid the beach and go to Koh Rong or other places.”

Samut Sothearith, the head of the provincial environment department, added that Sihanoukville authorities are looking for companies to build another joint aquifer to store dirty water. In the meantime, Nguon said that polluting companies are being asked to build their own.

Lav Heng, owner of Ochheuteal Hotel in Sihanoukville, said that sewage is an issue, especially from hotels and restaurants that are closest to Otres beach.