Chemical waste from the Eternal Way Cambodia Ltd garment factory has been dumped into the Tonle Sap river for several years, causing people who live near Kilometer Six village along Route 5 to get sores when they bathe in the river, local residents have charged.
“My skin gets very itchy, rough and red and sometimes I have a fever after I take baths in the river,” said villager Choeng Yang Tor. “We have faced this situation from the Eternal Way garment factory for years but we can’t do anything. Local authorities have known about this matter and they talk with factory representatives but pollution is still going into the river,” he said.
A factory spokeswoman said the company does not pour chemicals into the river; she said the wastewater is properly filtered and then dumped into the public sewage system. The water is inspected by officials from the Ministry of Environment before it is dumped, said the woman, who asked for anonymity.
“We have proper storage in the factory to filter the chemicals,” she said. “After we determine that there are no chemicals in the water, we pour it into the sewage,” she said.
A Ministry of Environment official said Monday that some factories in Phnom Penh do not follow anti-pollution measures. “This is because of bribes that chemical waste still flows into the river,” she said. The chief of a village near Kilometer Six said he has complained about the pollution and how it has seriously affected the environment and people’s health.
“They pour wastewater from the factory into the river every week, and foam floats in the river,” he said. In March, the factory buried the wastewater discharge pipes beneath the ground but the pipes still dump water in the river, he claimed.
“I believe it is flowing water into the river but we could not see the foam because water now rises up and the pipe is covered very deep,” he said, adding that he has photographic evidence of the pipes being dug and covered.
He said he told officials from the Phnom Penh municipal government and the Ministry of Environment about the problem but nothing was done. He said he also informed the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
“We are all angry about the factory and the government officials but what can we do?” he said.