A local company could face sanctions as it is suspected of being the culprit behind the import of 1,600 tonnes of unwanted rubbish in Preah Sihanouk province last week.
Last week, authorities said 83 containers filled with plastic waste came from the United States and Canada over the course of almost one year.
Kun Nhim, director-general of the General Department of Customs and Excise, on Saturday told Khmer Times the company behind the import was Chungyuen Plastic Manufacturer Company, a local entity.
“We found that Chungyuen Plastic Manufacturer was registered in 2018 with the Commerce Ministry,” Mr Nhim said. “There are Chinese nationals working at the company. We do not yet know if the Chinese nationals have shares in the company or not.”
“The result of the investigation will be made known at the end of next week,” he said, adding that company stakeholders will be identified.
According to the Commerce Ministry’s business registration department, the company has a Preah Sihanouk province address and that its company director and chairman of its board of directors is Suon Lok.
Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday declined to comment and referred the question to the General Department of Customs and Excise.
However, on Thursday Mr Pheaktra told Khmer Times that in order to prevent the import of unwanted rubbish, the authorities would need to strengthen law enforcement.
“First, we would strengthen the law; second, we will cooperate closely with ministries to fight against banned imports, such as plastic; and third, we will connect or exchange information with other countries in order to prevent rubbish import,” he said.
The US embassy last week said it was monitoring the issue.
“The US Embassy is monitoring reports of plastic waste at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port,” US embassy spokeswoman Emily Zeeberg said. “We have requested additional information and are offering US government assistance to determine both the exporter (country of origin) and the importing entity here in Cambodia.”
When asked yesterday if there were any updates, Ms Zeeberg said “we don’t have any update.”
The government has repeatedly said banned rubbish is dangerous for the environment and that it will send the 83 containers filled with rubbish back to the US and Canada.
“Cambodia is not a dumpsite for outdated technology waste and Cambodia will always oppose the import of plastic and autoparts to be recycled here,” it said in a statement.
Meas Soksensan, spokesman for the Ministry of Economy and Finance, yesterday said the company could be punished.
“Officials are in the process of taking action against them, in accordance with the law,” Mr Soksensan said. “If the company does not accept, they can protest.”
He noted though it cannot be said when the rubbish will be sent back, the government will try its best to solve the problem.
“I can’t say when we will send them off – we are working on that,” he said. “The Philippines took years to send back the rubbish to Canada.”