Fines on Waste Not Settled

Negotiations over the cleanup of toxic waste in Sihanoukville continued Wednesday, apparently deadlocked over how much the government can fine a Tai­wan­­ese petrochemical giant the if company fails to remove the waste in a timely manner.

A draft agreement between Formosa Plastics Corp and the government earlier this week would require the multinational to remove nearly 3,000 tons of mercury-tainted toxic waste within 60 days, or face fines.

Under the draft agreement, Formosa would face fines of $1,000 a day if it fails to remove the waste by the agreed-upon deadline. After 15 days, the fines would escalate to $2,000 per day and continue until the waste is shipped out of the country.

But officials from Formosa Plas­tics are reluctant to sign the agreement because it would allow the government to continue levying the fines indefinitely once the 60-day deadline passes, a source close to negotiations said Wed­nesday.

Formosa officials are seeking to impose a time limit that would stop the fines from accruing two months after they are first im­posed—even if portions of the waste still remain at the contaminated site, the source said.

Om Yentieng, who is representing the government in the talks, declined to reveal either the location of the negotiations or their status. He would not confirm whether the fines were the final disagreement blocking the deal’s signing. “I need time to negotiate,” said Om Yentieng, an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Maybe we will finish today, maybe tomorrow, maybe later.”

Reached again by phone Wed­nesday evening, Om Yen­tieng again declined to comment, and would not say whether any final agreement was reached.

Visiting Formosa President Lee Chih-tsun could not be reached for comment.

Formosa also would provide medical treatment to those who are found to have been poisoned by the waste, or are harmed during its transport out of Cambodia, the draft agreement states.


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