Local authorities investigating a house in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district confiscated more than 260 containers of fertilizer and insecticide Wednesday morning after neighbors of a Chinese man complained of a noxious smell emanating from his house, which they feared might have been a dangerous gas.
Toek La’ak commune officials first checked the rental property on Street 245 on Tuesday night but chose to secure the building and return the following morning after deciding it was too dangerous to carry out a search in the dark, according to commune chief Nov Pheakdey.
“Our forces temporarily locked up the house and returned the next morning to make our report. But we were pretty sure that insecticide or fertilizer was being stored inside without permission,” Mr. Pheakdey said, adding that the home was being rented by 32-year-old Chinese national Wu Junqiang.
Chemical experts entered the building at about 9 a.m. and discovered 267 cases of fertilizer and insecticide, said Sieng Borin, director of the municipal agriculture department.
“All the goods had been imported under license but they were being stored here without permission and those kinds of fertilizers cannot be stored near people’s homes because they are a health risk,” Mr. Borin said.
“In this case, the fertilizers posed no serious threat…but according to the law they were stored illegally, which carries a fine of at least 10 million riel [or about $2,500],” he said, adding that the chemicals had been brought to the municipal agricultural department.
The Chinese tenant was not at home when the search was carried out, according to Mr. Borin, who said he is employed at the Li Zhen Qiu company in Pur Senchey district, which imported the chemicals.
His neighbor, 67-year-old Tung Yeng, said locals had been fearful that the smell was poisonous.
“I could not bear to smell it because it made me cough, it was so bad it could have affected our health—there are more than 40 houses around here,” he said. “So I think the authorities should implement the law on this case.”