US Helps Gov’t Finance Disposal of Chemicals

The US will give the UN half of the $120,000 needed to clean up chemicals found during a police raid on a drug laboratory in Kom­pong Speu province in April and to provide chemical disposal train­ing for the government, officials said Thursday.

The US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs will provide $60,000 to the local UN Office on Drugs and Crime so that it can begin disposing of the three tons of chemicals discovered in the raid, US Em­bassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said.

“They needed a commitment of half the money before they can begin the work,” he said. “We realize that Cambodia has a limited capacity to clean up this kind of site.”

Lars Pedersen, lead project manager for the UNODC, said Wednesday that his agency ex­pects to receive the remaining $60,000 from Germany and that the money will also be used to train local drug officials in methods to clean up illegal labs found in the future.

“It is also to build capacity of the government so that for the next laboratory the government will know what to do,” he said.

German Embassy officials could not be reached for comment.

Lour Ramin, secretary-general of the National Authority for Com­bating Drugs, said no date has been set to begin the cleanup because officials have been waiting for the UNODC to raise the necessary funds.

During the April 1 drug raid police arrested 18 people, including 14 Cambodians whose families claim were only hired to use the chemicals to kill grass.

Police say the laboratory was pro­ducing precursor chemicals to make methamphetamines.

On Sunday, Kompong Speu Governor Kang Heang appealed to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to release the men, saying there was no evidence that the men were involved in the production of drugs.

Lour Ramin said his office will submit a request to the Justice Ministry seeking the men’s release.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana could not be reached for comment.

(Additional reporting by Saing Soenthrith)


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