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Phoenix Industrial Fined, Asked to Relocate after Third Toxic Leak into Sangkae River

BATTAMBANG: Authorities in Battambang’s Rattanak Mondul district have concluded an investigation into toxic black water that leaked into the Sangkae River earlier this month. According to the Ministry of Environment, Phoenix Industrial Company, Ltd. is being fined $468,560 for dumping untreated waste into the water, killing wildlife and polluting a source of freshwater for local people.

On August 2, social media users posted photos and videos of dead fish floating in the Sangkae River, which had been flowing with black toxic wastewater. According to locals, this has been a repeated occurrence over the last few years and initial reports were that it had come from a Hong Kong-based factory upstream.

The Ministry of Environment sent a notice to Phoenix Industrial Company Ltd. on August 10, breaking down the fines which must be paid by October 20, 2023. The company is to pay $93,560 in direct environmental impact compensation along with $375,000 to the Committee on Environmental and Social Fund (CSF).

The Ministry is also demanding the company relocate its factory at least 10 km away from the Sangkae River and rehabilitate the environment in and around the factory site before November 20, 2023.

If the company does not comply with the ministry’s requests, it will be fined a combined 150 million Riels (about $36,000) for its continued environmental crimes and non-compliance. The ministry will be sending inspectors to see that its requests are honored and if no progress is made, the additional fines will be due by September 20, 2023, and include separate offences for causing intentional leakage of untreated waste, non-compliance, failure to remove waste from the river and operating without the approval of the environmental and social impact assessment report. The ministry also said it is ready to pursue legal action if the company does not comply.

According to the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, this is the third time the company has been cited for dumping pollutants into the Sangkae River and threatening the area’s biodiversity. The river is 250 km long and ultimately drains into the Tonle Sap Lake near Cambodia’s treasured Angkor Wat site. 



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