Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - While dump dioxin fears confirmed

While dump dioxin fears confirmed

While dump dioxin fears confirmed

while.jpg
while.jpg

Stung Meanchey dump: a life threatening, heavy-metal, dioxin mess.

A

two-year Japanese study of Stung Meanchay dump has confirmed serious levels of

dioxin in the soil and dangerously high levels of heavy metals in the metabolisms

of young boys who scavenge at the dump for recyclables.

The study's final report, released on Dec 29, conclusively confirms preliminary analyses

of soil and human tissue first taken from the dump in Jan 1999 that suggested that

people living and working at the dump face critical health risks due to their environment.

Of most concern, according to Dr. Shinsuke Tanabe of Japan's Ehime University's Center

for Marine Environmental Studies, is his study's conclusion that the 260 young boys

who scavenge the dumps debris absorb potentially life-threatening levels of heavy

metals such as mercury, cesium and cadmium.

"Heavy metals affect the nervous system as well as the endrocrine and immune

systems," Tanabe said. "Endocrine disrupters [like heavy metals] are particularly

dangerous because the can cause birth defects."

Perhaps more worringly, Tanabe's study found that the soil at the Stung Meanchay

dump was highly contaminated with dioxin, a highly carcinogenic waste product most

commonly formed when garbage - especially that containing plastics - is burned.

According to Tanabe, the dump's non-stop garbage fires had transformed the first

few inches of soil at the dump into a poisonous, dioxin-laced substance that required

immediate removal in the interests of public safety.

"In Japan, the maximum allowable concentrations of dioxin [in soil] is 1000

picograms (a trillionth of a gram), but at the dump we found concentrations of 1700

picograms," Tanabe said. "This excessive level of dioxin could cause toxic

effects to workers at the dump."

However, a US toxicologist consulted by the Post cautioned that the US government

rules that dioxin, like plutonium, is unsafe in any measure, regardless of how small.

Tanabe said the contaminated soil needs to be removed and safely disposed of and

that he would lobby for international funding to achieve that.

He also urged the Cambodian government to adopt long term strategies to address its

waste disposal problems, advocating the creation of a streamlined garbage separation

and recycling program to ensure that hazardous wastes were properly handled and disposed

of.

"All these techniques are available and widely used in developed countries,

so developed countries should assist Cambodia to solve its waste disposal problems,"

he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The