To combat the threat of water pollution for the expanding beach town of Sihanoukville, the Asian Development Bank has loaned $20 million to the government to build a water treatment plant.
Construction is scheduled to begin in June and be completed by 2004, said So Chung Hour, the director of Sihanoukville’s public works department. The project includes canals to funnel treated wastewater from the plant into the Gulf of Thailand.
Hotels, restaurants and factories in the area currently store waste in underground septic tanks, many of which are reaching capacity, So Chung Hour said. Waste from the Angkor Beer factory and the Sihanoukville International Port has found its way into the sea, he said.
The loan will pay for a truck to pump waste from full basins while the treatment plant is being built, So Chung Hour said. New tanks will be built to hold the excess waste during that time.
A design study for the plant last year found no significant pollution to the sea around Sihanoukville, said Lonh Hell, deputy director of pollution control for the Ministry of Environment.
Nonetheless, the ministry warned shoe and garment factories, and the Angkor Beer factory, to avoid dumping waste water into the sea, Lonh Hell said. The ministry also warned shrimp farmers along the coast to avoid dumping.
Residents of three villages have complained about dirty water and bad smells from the shoe factories, So Chung Hour said. The municipality ordered the factories to build their own treatment plant. Some have complied, he said.
Angkor Beer has begun constructing its own treatment plant at a cost of $400,000, said Lim Tong Heng, factory office manager. It will be completed in three to four months, he said. The treated water will be safe for the sea and clean enough to be used for irrigation, he said.
Most wastewater from the factory has seeped into the ground under the canals leading from the factory and has not reached the sea, he said.
Lou Kim Chhun, general director of the port, said that water pollution from the port has been limited to occasional small spills of oil being transported from docked ships to trucks. But development planned for a nearby business development zone may create additional waste, he said.