Ammonia Gas Leak at Illegal Ice Factory Leads to Evacuation

An illegal Phnom Penh ice factory leaked ammonia gas on Monday for the second time in eight months, causing an evacuation of nearby buildings, City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said on Monday. An elementary school was also forced to close for the morning.

The factory in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Loeu commune, shut down last year over an ammonia leak, had “secretly re-opened for business in the past few weeks,” Mr. Measpheakdey said, adding that the owner was being sought for questioning.

cam photo ice channa
The ice-making factory in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Loeu commune, shut down on Monday over an ammonia leak. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Across the street from the factory, elementary school American Bridge International was closed for the morning, according to Da Vy, the school’s security guard.

“It smelled very bad this morning [and] workers ran out of the factory,” Mr. Vy said. “The school informed children’s parents not to bring their children to school because we were afraid that it may affect their health.”

The school’s receptionist, who declined to give her name, confirmed the school’s morning closure. School administrators could not be reached.

Commune police chief Hut Vanna confirmed that the factory was the same one at which a November leak knocked out seven people, including four firefighters. The factory’s owner, Ouk Navy, was arrested at the time and sent to the court to face charges of unintentional violence, Mr. Vanna said.

He was unsure how the case had proceeded. A municipal court spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng has ordered the factory to be closed, Mr. Measpheakdey said on Monday, adding that several fire trucks had responded at the scene.

“We temporarily evacuated the neighbors until 9 a.m.,” he said. “We had complete control. There were no injuries.”

Members of a working group from the Environment Ministry’s general department of environment protection were at the factory on Monday and blamed the leak on a tube that had become disconnected from a gas tank.

They declined to give their names because they were not authorized to talk to reporters and referred further questions to the ministry’s spokesmen, who could not be reached for comment.

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