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Sihanoukville waste firm fined $250K

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Director-general of the General Department of Customs and Excise Kun Nhem (left) and Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra. Heng Chivoan

Sihanoukville waste firm fined $250K

Chugyuen Plastic Manufacture Co Ltd has been ordered to return 83 containers filled with plastic waste found at Sihanoukville port to their countries of origin. The company has been fined more than one billion riel ($250,000) for illegally importing the waste.

The company, which an official said had nothing to do with China, will have to pay the fine by no later than August 24, reporters were told at a press conference at the General Department of Customs and Excise on Tuesday.

Kun Nhem, the director-general of the General Department of Customs and Excise, said the 83 containers, weighing a total of 1,562 tonnes, were imported over 17 separate occasions between last September and January.

Seventy containers, weighing 1,322 tonnes, were imported from the US and 13, weighing 270 tonnes, from Canada.

They had passed through ports in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam before reaching Cambodia, he added.

“After checks by the General Department of Customs and Excise and a Ministry of Environment laboratory, the plastic waste did not contain dangerous chemical substances. I cannot say as yet if legal action will be taken against the company’s owner,” Nhem said.

Chungyuen Plastic Manufacture is not Chinese-owned and did not employ Chinese nationals. The company had rented a building in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone as its office. It had been recognised as a legal entity by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), he said.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the firm was owned by Cambodian Suon Lok and had been registered at the Ministry of Commerce since July 20, last year.

The transport of plastic waste was contrary to customs regulations and articles 36 and 209 of the Law on Environmental Protection and Nature Management.

As well as breaking Cambodian law, the import of the containers had also contravened the Basel Convention on the transnational transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.

“Chungyuen Plastic Manufacture must return the 83 plastic-waste filled containers to their original countries and pay a fine of 1,037,500,000 riel to the national budget. The company must export the waste and pay the fine by August 24,” Pheaktra said.

Lok, the owner of Chungyuen Plastic Manufacture, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Cheap Sotheary, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said authorities should take legal action against Lok to deter others from illegally importing waste.

Jenn Gearey, communications and media manager at Environment and Climate Change Canada, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

However, she had previously told The Post that the Canadian government was aware of the concerns raised by Cambodia and would provide support and information via the Canadian embassy.

“Canada’s government is taking action to reduce plastic waste and support the development of innovative solutions, including spending $100 million to help developing countries prevent and manage plastic pollution.

“The government of Canada is committed to finding ways to ensure plastic is recycled properly, so it doesn’t end up in landfills or our oceans, lakes, rivers and environment,” Gearey said.

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