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- January 23, 2020 7:30 AM
PHNOM PENH — The Ministry of Environment has imposed a fine of around $500,000 on Phoenix Industry that recently discharged liquid toxic waste into the Sangke River in Battambang province, killing fish in the river.
On Aug. 2, photos of dead fish believed to have died due to the polluted water of the Sangke River started to circulate, sparking concerns among people and shared among social media users.
The provincial administration conducted a two-day investigation, identifying the cause as being the liquid water released by one factory
On Aug. 7, Phoenix Industry was ordered to suspend its operations after it was found to have leaked toxic wastewater that had killed fish in the river. The company had thrice caused impact on the environment, which had led to a warning being issued by the Ministry of Environment.
Phoenix Industry is a pharmaceutical company in Battambang Province manufacturing, among other products, cassava flour, capsule shells, ethanol, chemical fertilizers, and food additives. The company is located in Pcheav Village in Treng Commune, Ratanak Mondul District.
On Aug. 10, the Ministry of Environment issued a letter to the factory, ordering it to relocate at least 10 kilometers away from the Sangke River and imposing a fine. The letter was seen and circulated on social media on Aug. 12.
Battambang Provincial Environment Department Director Kort Boran said the department team has received the letter from the ministry and will carry out the work accordingly.
“We will closely monitor the factory’s action and allow them the time to respond to the order of the ministry so that they can take care of their factory and operation,” he said on Aug. 12.
In the letter, the company is said to have caused pollution in the Sangke River, which affected biodiversity in the water and the lives of the people. The Ministry of Environment requires the company to contribute $93,560 for direct environmental-impact compensation, such as fishing, fishing yields and water supply.
The company has to pay another $375,000 in compensation for indirect impacts such as pollution of the Sangke River and public health. The payments must be made by Oct. 20.
The ministry has also fined the company for having polluted the water more than once. The company must pay 150 million riels or $37,500 for river pollution and fish-poisoning damages, leaking contaminated water, failure to comply with the previous order of the ministry, failure to clean liquid waste that led to leaking wastewater, and operating without an environmental assessment.
The company must pay these fines by Sept. 20. The ministry also ordered the company to restore the environment and clean the area around the company’s facility by Nov. 20.
“If the company violates any orders, the Ministry of Environment will go ahead with legal action,” the letter read.