Cambodian firm probed over Sihanoukville plastic waste

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) - The owner of a Cambodian business is being questioned over the discovery last week of 83 plastic-rubbish filled containers at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.

Kun Nhem the director-general of the General Department of Customs
and Excise, said on Sunday that the owner of a Cambodian business is
being questioned over the discovery last week of 83 plastic-rubbish
filled containers at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.

Nhem told The Post that authorities were investigating the company,
which hired Chinese employees, over its involvement in illegally
importing a reported 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste from the US and
Canada.

The waste would be returned to its countries of origin and fines issued when the probe is completed.

“Authorities are investigating the company to ascertain whether
Chinese nationals have ownership. This is still at the investigation
stage. The results will be announced shortly.

“We cannot reveal the name of the company as the investigation
is ongoing,” Nhem said, adding that the waste was brought over in
different phases since the end of last year.

Jenn Gearey, the communications manager at Environment and Climate
Change Canada, told VOD on Saturday via email that the Canadian
government was aware of the concerns raised by its Cambodian
counterpart.

The Canadian government has reached out to Cambodian officials
through the Canadian embassy in Phnom Penh and is following the matter
closely, she said.

“Canada’s government is taking action to reduce plastic waste and
support the development of innovative solutions, including spending
$100million to help developing countries to prevent and manage plastic
pollution.

“The government of Canada is committed to finding ways to ensure
plastic is recycled properly, so it doesn’t end up in landfills or in
our oceans, lakes, rivers and environment,” Gearey said.

Nhem said cross-referencing the shipping company’s documents at
Sihanoukville Autonomous Port with those from ports that had earlier
received the containers revealed the waste had originated in the US and
Canada.

He told The Post that checks had revealed the containers did not hold poisonous or radioactive substances.

“The waste does smell. The Ministry of Environment has sent it for
laboratory tests, with the results expected next week,” Nhem said.

Cheap Sotheary, the coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Preah
Sihanouk province, praised authorities for revealing the results of the
investigation to manage public concerns.

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