Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara wants officials of the Tack Fat Garment (Cambodia) Ltd to tell him why they are still discharging polluted water at their plant in the Meanchey district.
To that end, he plans to invite them to meet with him early next week—and with officials of the ministries of Environment, Industry and Interior—to talk about the laws on water pollution.
“I am very upset with this matter,’’ he said Thursday night. “We want to stop this, but we are also concerned for the workers, who would lose their jobs’’ if the factories are shut down.
Chea Sophara has been urging factories to voluntarily clean up their operations since late last year, when he asked local authorities in communities along the Mekong River to work together with the city to clean up the river.
In the 1960s, he said, the river was clean and swimmable. “if you bathe or dive in the water now, you would encounter garbage,’’ he said at the time.
He stepped up the pressure in February, writing letters to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the three ministries complaining that Tack Fat and a second factory, Chu Shing Garment Co Ltd, were still discharging polluted water.
Chea Sophara said that Chu Shing, which is located in the Russei Keo district, has since made an effort to clean up its wastewater, but that as far as he can tell, “Tack Fat doesn’t care.’’
Tack Fat discharges its water into a holding pond, not directly into the river, but neighbors have complained of bad smells and health problems.
Officials for either company could not be reached for comment.
Last July, the Council of Ministers passed a subdecree aimed at reducing factory pollution and assessing the environmental hazards of new projects. The measure gave the Environment Ministry more power to fine or imprison anyone involved in harming the environment.
Since then, officials have been visiting factories to check if they are obeying environmental rules.
Officials say most owners have been cooperative, although at least one factory near Phnom Penh was closed temporarily for polluting a community’s water supply.