The Cambodian Mine Action Center has appealed to local authorities to ensure scrap yards are free of salvaged military hardware following the confiscation of more than 30 tons of unexploded ordnance from a handful of scrap dealers near Poipet.
CMAC Director General Khem Sophoan said Monday that the appeal follows checks by police on seven scrap dealers in Poipet which turned up the 30-ton haul. The police had been checking for explosives when they stumbled on mounds of war debris, much of which still contained dangerous explosive materials.
“We would like to appeal to all local authorities to prevent any dealing in UXOs as scrap. It is very dangerous,” Khem Sophoan said.
About 10 tons of the confiscated material have been destroyed already by the demining organization Halo Trust, and the remaining 20 tons will be destroyed Oct 24 at a ceremony in Banteay Meanchey province’s Preah Netr Preah district, the site of a large RCAF military base.
Nuth Ly, police chief of O’Chrou district, said Monday that scrap shops and junkyards in the area have been asked to submit written promises to authorities that they will no longer purchase war scrap.
Valued for their metal casings, empty mortar rounds and artillery shells are collected throughout the country and sold to scrap dealers. Both Banteay Meanchey and Battambang provinces were the site of intense fighting during three decades of conflict and are still littered today with land mines and UXOs.
Casualties from UXOs nationwide between January and August fell from 647 in 2002 to 545 this year, Khem Sophoan said.
The drop in deaths and injuries may be linked to the work of CMAC volunteers who are working in villages in both provinces to educate locals on the dangers posed by unexploded bombs and shells, Khem Sophoan said.