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Tonnes of UXO to be destroyed

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The National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW Clearance will organise ceremonies to destroy 250 tonnes of unexploded ordnance in Kampong Speu province from Tuesday until the end of October. Photo supplied

Tonnes of UXO to be destroyed

The National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW (explosive remnants of war) Clearance (NPMEC) will organise ceremonies to destroy 250 tonnes of ammunition and explosives in Kampong Speu province from Tuesday until the end of October to prevent the unexploded ordnance (UXO) being set off accidentally.

An NPMEC press release obtained by The Post on Monday said the ceremonies would be held at the Training Centre For Multinational Peacekeeping Forces in Phnom Sruoch district’s Maha Saing commune, presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sakhon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and attended by many national and international guests.

“Some of the unexploded ordnance is WP [white phosphorus] type, which is dangerous if exposed to hot sunlight.

“Some are RPG7s [anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launchers] which have decayed and are at risk of exploding.

“So, to ensure people’s safety and prevent any accidental explosions, the NPMEC will hold events to destroy all these remnants from September 10 to October 31,” the press release said.

The NPMEC also gave notice to local authorities, as well as villagers living in and around the compound not to be concerned or surprised.

NPMEC deputy director-general Phal Samorn said on Monday that the process would be carried out in stages.

“We are making this announcement to notify citizens and local authorities so they know there will be explosions and not to be surprised,” he said.

When asked about the source of the UXO, Samorn declined to comment in detail, saying it was an internal NPMEC matter.

He said the ceremonies would be attended by senior officials of the Ministry of National Defence, the UN Development Programme, the Halo Trust, the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), the Mine Authority and other organisations whose work involves mines in Cambodia.

“The destruction process will be based on proper procedures and techniques. We’re professionally trained. We not only clear mines in our country but also in Sudan, Lebanon, the Central African Republic and Mali.

“The mine destruction team’s technical standards are recognised by the UN and the Mine Authority. It’s our job to ascertain how much explosive powder we have to prepare to destroy the explosive remnants.

“Some of the explosive devices were leftover from 1975 while others we have collected for destruction are old, eroded or decayed and have been kept for too long. There’s a mixture of unexploded ordnance,” Samorn said.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana could not be reached for comment on Monday.