100 Kg of Fish Killed by 6-Ton Chemical Spill

An estimated 100 kg of fish were killed and about 1,000 villagers were told not to drink from a stream that was contaminated with 6 tons of an unknown chemical substance in Kompong Chhnang province on Tuesday night, police said.

A truck carrying 22 containers of chemicals from Poipet City to Phnom Penh crashed into a bridge railing in Kompong Tralach district, spilling the contents from six of the containers into the Boeng Pur stream, district deputy traffic police chief Meas Sophin said yesterday.

“Six containers spilled out the substance and it flowed into the water,” Mr. Sophin said. “The fish died and floated [to the surface]…in just a few hours,” he said, adding that authorities did not know what sort of chemical was on board the truck, and the driver of the truck did not know either.

Mr. Sophin said the chemical was “some kind of acid” and the driver of the truck, Yim Ouch, was carrying an invoice for Crown Company located in Phnom Penh.

Bun Thoeun, provincial traffic police chief, said that, according to the driver of the truck, the chemical was used for “washing beer cans.”

A person who answered the phone at Crown Beverage Cans (Cambodia) Ltd., declined to comment on the crash, and declined to give her name.

Approximately 100 kg of fish died from the polluted water, said Ta Ches commune chief Suos Siphay, but neither livestock nor local people were affected. The stream flows into the Tonle Sap river, Mr. Siphay said.

“It’s a little acid in a big body of water and it will be dissolved by the time it flows to the Tonle Sap,” Mr. Siphay said. Local villagers were told not to use stream on Wednesday, but it was safe to use again yesterday, he also maintained.

“The villagers don’t need the water, as this is the rainy season. They only use it in the dry season for their rice fields,” he added.

Mr. Thoeun said provincial environment department officials were at the scene of the spill yesterday, but they could not be contacted for comment.

(Additional reporting by Dene-Hern Chen)

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