Poipet Waste Water Under Investigation

Cambodian environmental officials are checking the waste water released by casinos on the Cam­bodian-Thai border into a stream in Poipet town to see if there are any health dangers.

Samples of sewage from Ban­teay Meanchey province have been sent to Phnom Penh for testing after an inquiry from Thai Foreign Minister Surikiart Sath­irathai during his trip to Cam­bodia earlier this month.

O’Chrou district governor Sar Chamrong said the pollution comes not only from the Cam­bodian casinos, but also from a nearby Thai market. No sam­ple was taken from the Thai side.

“We are the most affected be­cause Cambodian villagers living along the border use water from that stream,” Sar Chamrong said.

Heng Nareth, director of the pollution department at the Min­istry of the Environment, said that managers from five of the six Poi­pet casinos have met with ministry officials to discuss the problem. He said the sixth casino re­fused to send a representative.

The five casinos are hooked up to primary basins in which the wa­ter is treated before it is discharged, Heng Nareth said. “In fact, the casinos have carried out the first step,” he said.

Heng Nareth said that after the lab testing is completed next week, a decision will be made on whether the casinos need to be equipped with secondary treatment basins. Officials are still waiting for laboratory results.

The Cambodian government passed stronger anti-pollution laws in 1999 after the discovery of more than 3,000 tons of mercury-tainted waste shipped in from Taiwan and dumped in Siha­noukville.

The building of casinos in Poi­pet has also sparked land disputes between Thailand and Cam­bodia, with government commissions looking into the issue on both sides.


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