Alarming: video shows Sihanoukville’s Independence Beach awash with sewage *updated


Alarming video has been posted to YouTube showing more sewage-polluted water flowing across the sand and into the ocean at Sihanoukville, just days after the Cambodian government order a Chinese-owned casino on Koh Rong Somlem shuttered for the same thing.

In the video recorded by Cambodian environmental campaigners Mother Nature on March 25, rank looking black water can be seen snaking its way across the sand and into the ocean at ‘Independence Beach’ (7-Chann Beach).

Appearing to originate from in front of the Sunshine Bay Hotel & Casino, Mother Nature claims that the complex is dumping the putrid-looking water into the ocean at a much greater rate than the Jin Ding Hotel and Casino was on Koh Rong Somlem.

Meng Heng, the Mother Nature campaigner in the video asks, “Will [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s regime dare to shut down this giant hotel & casino if it is found to be spewing sewage into the sea at a greater rate than the Jin Ding Hotel and Casino?”

On March 13 provincial authorities in Sihanoukville ordered the Jin Ding Hotel and Casino closed. On March 26 Cambodia Minister for Urban Planning,  Chea Sophara, said on his Facebook page that “Sihanoukville city no longer has any sewage water being dumped onto its sea and beaches”.

Visiting ‘Independence Beach’ Mr Meng said that he found Mr Sophara’s assertions were “incorrect”, questioning whether Mr Chea had actually visited the area before making his statement.

Whether the filthy putrid water is originating from the Sunshine Bay Hotel & Casino or not is unproven. No formal inspection has taken place, though the source would appear to originate on land the resort is responsible for.

e.coli “too numerous to count”

Speaking via WhatsApp messenger from Barcelona, Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, Mother Nature co-founder, said that the results of water tested at Phnom Penh’s Pasteur Institute taken from in front of the Sunshine Bay Hotel & Casino were “as shocking as can be expected”.

In documents seen by AEC News Today the Pasteur Institute reported high levels of ammonia and Trichomonas intestinalis trophozoite and strongloides stercoralis larva parasites.

Escherichia coli (e.coli) “was too numerous that the enumeration was not possible”, the report said. AEC News Today can not independently verify the source of the water that the reports relate to.

Mr Gonzalez-Davidson said that “depending on who you speak to at the hotel it was either (a) not their sewage, or (b) it is their sewage, but this should be sorted out soon after their ‘treatment plant is finished'”.

Emails and messages sent by AEC News Today to Sunshine Bay Hotel & Casino were not responded to.

Casinos: Macau 41 – Sihanoukville 88

The video of ‘Independence Beach’ follows one released several weeks earlier highlighting the large number of Chinese-owned casinos that have sprung up in Sihanoukville in recent years.

In this March video highlighting the trash problem in Sihanoukville, Mother Nature asks ‘how much does Cambodia get, and where does it go?’
Video: Mother Nature Cambodia

Filmed against a backdrop of trash and litter, the report notes that in the last couple of years 88 casinos have sprung up in and around Sihanoukville. Meanwhile Macau, long regarded as one of the world’s great gambling destinations, has just 41.

The Mother Nature video claims that some $5 billion in taxes are collected annually by the Macau government and asks: how much tax does Cambodia collect from the 88 casinos and what is the money spent on?.

The video then goes on to highlight the growing trash problem in Sihanoukville, noting that in one commune alone they had found 29 large piles of garbage waiting collection.

Whether the Cambodian government will take action against Sunshine Bay Hotel & Casino as it did Jin Ding remains to be seen.

In an direct message to AEC News Today Lieutenant General Yun Min, Governor of Preah Sihanouk province said authorities were aware of the situation and “not sleeping”, adding that he and his team were working to remedy the issues highlighted in the Mother Nature video.

“All of the problems cannot be fixed immediately. My staff and I are committed to tackling the problems and in the very near future you will see the results of our work”, he said.

Early last year two Mother Nature activists, Dem Kundy and Hun Vannak, were sentenced to a one year jail term with seven months suspended and fined KHR1 million (about $US245) after they were found guilty of ‘violating privacy’ and ‘incitement to commit a felony’. (See: Cambodia Jails Environmental Activists For Photographing Boat (video)).

Hun Sen 2015: “I am mindful of environmental impacts”

Mr Gonzalez-Davidson was deported from Cambodia in 2015 over his campaign against the highly controversial Chinese-backed $400 million, 108-megawatt Chhay Areng hydropower dam in Koh Kong province, supported by ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) lawmaker Lao Meng Khin and his wife.

Speaking after Mr Gonzalez-Davidson’s expulsion in 2015 Prime Minister Hun said “from now until [my term ends in] 2018, there will be no [Chhay Areng] dam construction”, adding, “I don’t want to see the younger generation deal with problems from the dam. I want to inform you that I am mindful of the difference between economic benefits and environmental impacts”.


Mother Nature Cambodia ceased operating as an official non-governmental organisation (NGO) in September 2017 after requesting the Ministry of Interior (MoI) revoke its licence.

 

Update: This story was last updated at 20:34 local time on April 30 to include a response received from Lieutenant General Yun Min, Governor of Preah Sihanouk province.

 

Feature video Mother Nature Cambodia

 

Related:

  • Environmental NGO urges closure of Chinese hotel ‘spewing raw sewage’ on Cambodian resort island (Eco-Business)
  • Sihanoukville authorities close canal to transfer flow of polluted water (The Phnom Penh Post)
  • Sihanoukville’s most important lake is filled in, worsening the city’s water-shortage crisis (Mother Nature Cambodia)

 

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