Long-Term Impact of Chemical Spill Unclear

The long-term impact of 6 tons of toxic chemicals that spilled into a stream in Kompong Chhnang province on Tuesday, killing several hundred kilograms of fish,  still unclear, the provincial department of environment said on Friday.

The chemicals, identified as the cleaning agents Ridoline 560, Ridoline 120, and Aldoline, which are used to clean beer cans, are highly toxic, according to Dusseldorf-based Henkel, one of the main producers of the chemicals.

Kompong Chhnang provincial court prosecutor Tinh Vibol said the chemicals were destined for the Crown Beverage Can (Cambodia) Ltd. in Phnom Penh. Contacted on Friday, a representative of Crown, who only gave her name as Mengly, denied the chemicals belonged to her firm.

Pov Bunthan, director of the provincial environmental department, said it was unsafe to consume water or fish from the Boeng Pur stream where the chemical spilled after a transport truck crashed on a bridge Tuesday night. The long-term consequences of the chemical spill are unknown, Mr. Bunthan said. Boeng Pur stream flows into the Tonle Sap River.

“The entire Boeng Pur lake has a pH between 4 and 6, while the spot [beneath the bridge where the crash took place] has a pH of 3,” Mr. Bunthan said.

Streams generally have a pH of between 5 and 7, while pH 3 can be compared to vinegar.

Mr. Bunthan said that about 1,000 people living close to the contaminated stream have been banned from using the water, eating the fish or letting their animals drink from the stream or a nearby lake for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Vibol, the prosecutor, said the Crown company would have to pay for the damage to the bridge and the cost of cleaning up the chemical spill.

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