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Villagers to file complaint over battery fumes

Villagers to file complaint over battery fumes

REPRESENTATIVES of more than 100 families in Kampong Cham province’s Memot district have said they will file complaints with local authorities against the owner of a factory they say has continued to operate despite being ordered to close last month because of pollution concerns.

Provincial authorities revoked the Vietnamese-owned factory’s licence on April 21, after villagers complained they were suffering from health problems as a result of pollutants it had emitted in the process of melting down batteries for the production of lead.

Manager Bin Kea, who could not be reached Wednesday, has said that the factory shut down shortly after losing its licence, but Cheuk Roth, who represents more than 100 families from Samrong commune, said Wednesday that it was still emitting toxic smoke.

“We do not mind if they just crush the batteries,” he said. “But they melt them and emit bad smog, which makes villagers get sick.”

Cheuk Roth said villagers planned to gather 300 thumbprints and file new complaints with local officials, and that they would continue pressing officials on the issue until the factory is “completely closed down and no further activity is allowed”.

Chhuon Yorth, the chief of Samrong commune, acknowledged that the factory was still crushing recycled batteries, but said he was not aware it was melting them.

“We have sent three or four people to investigate the factory, but no noticeable activities have been found in there,” he said. He said he would take action against the factory’s owners if the villagers’ allegations turn out to be true.

Suon Dy, director of the provincial Department of Industry, Mines and Energy, also said the factory’s owners would be punished if officials determine it had not yet been shut down.

“The factory must be completely closed down, because the owner has broken their promise to stop doing anything that would affect ... the villagers’ health,” he said.