Sand Mining In Cambodia And Dams Upstream Threaten Mekong River

There are many ways to kill a river. With Southeast Asia's storied Mekong, China's upriver damming is taking a heavy toll, but downstream neighbors share the blame. The No. 1 threat: sand mining.

In Southeast Asia, the famed Mekong River is under threat from upstream dams built by China. Those dams are reducing the flow of water and sediment, but China’s downstream neighbors share the blame. Michael Sullivan reports from Cambodia.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, BYLINE: In the capital Phnom Penh, a construction boom is transforming the city. High rises are replacing the low-slung French colonial architecture, and sand from the Mekong sediment is used to make concrete that’s key to that growth, says government mineral resources Director-General Yos Monirath.

YOS MONIRATH: (Through interpreter) The benefit from sand dredging is both direct and indirect. The sand used in the construction industry helps create jobs and grows the economy, and dredging the river helps make it wider and deeper for boat traffic.

SULLIVAN: The downside – in the sand miners’ eagerness to extract the sand, not even the dead are safe.

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