A second test, this one conducted in Japan, has judged a sample of the mercury-tainted waste dumped near Sihanoukville to be highly toxic, officials said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng told reporters outside the National Assembly on Wednesday that the process of removing waste could be completed by the end of this week.
Environment Minister Mok Mareth said Wednesday that Japanese officials had contacted him by telephone to say that five soil samples taken at the site showed a mercury content ranging from 97 parts per million to 3,984 parts per million.
In Taiwan, mercury content in such construction waste is required to be under 0.2 parts per million, according to environmental experts there.
An earlier test in Singapore showed a content of 675 parts per million.
“Some of the samples are higher than the [Singapore] laboratory [found],” Mok Mareth said. But he stressed that the site is well-contained, the waste is being removed and that area residents are not in immediate danger.
The government has suspended more than 30 customs and inspection officials, including national Customs Director In Saroeun, over the clandestine dumping early December of nearly 3,000 tons of construction waste from the large Taiwanese company, Formosa Plastics Corp.
Mok Mareth said test results on blood and urine of nine sick port workers and others should be available today.
Mok Mareth said he asked Wednesday for Taiwanese environmental officials and Formosa Plastics officials to come to Cambodia to visit the site and discuss such issues as the test results and compensation.
Sar Kheng said bulldozers are now removing the waste after Sihanoukville authorities this week requested the equipment to speed up the grueling process of shoveling the waste into plastic-lined oil drums.
The mercury-laced waste is now being heaved into 20 large garbage containers.