Too Dirty for China ? Hunan Coal Plant Moves to Sihanoukville, Cambodia

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Too Dirty for China ? Hunan Coal Plant Moves to Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Post by CEOCambodiaNews » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:49 pm

Coal plant deemed too polluting for China heads to Cambodia
Lili Pike
As it cleans up at home, China is exporting coal power equipment and carbon emissions

In the seaside hills of Ou Treh, Cambodia, Peng Mom led the way to her house along a train track – the only access to her village, which is surrounded by a thicket of palms and vines. Inside, soot coated her cooking pots and furniture. Holding up a kitchen chair, the mother of four explained that the dust on it had settled in just one day, dulling the plastic’s hue to grey.

Directly across the tracks from her house lay the source: a cavernous warehouse where coal ash, a waste product from two nearby power plants, is stored and processed. The ash has led to a range of maladies in Peng Mom’s community. She and her neighbour, Phok Nge, said their children have had coughs, indigestion from food dirtied by the soot, and other health issues. “The ash makes my kids so itchy their skin almost breaks,” Phok Nge said with her children gathered around her.

Down the train tracks from their homes loom the candy-striped smokestacks of Cambodia’s first two coal plants, built to power sprawling new industrial parks and the casinos and hotels shooting up overnight in the neighbouring city of Sihanoukville. Catalysed by a massive influx of Chinese investment, Sihanoukville province is in the midst of an economic boom.

As Sihanoukville rises, Peng Mom and Phok Nge’s plight is set to worsen. A third coal plant is about to descend upon their neighbourhood.

It will be shipped over 1,600 kilometres from the Chinese province of Hunan.

There a retired coal plant is being meticulously deconstructed, like a prized sculpture preparing for a travelling exhibition. Forty five thousand tons of components are being labelled with individual QR codes to facilitate its reconstruction in Cambodia.

China’s shift to a greener economy – and a deadly pollution scandal – led to the Hunan plant’s closure; now it is getting a fresh start on foreign shores.

When it lands in Cambodia, the plant will exacerbate the pollution in Ou Treh and the global climate crisis. China has turned a blind eye to the side effects of coal power development as it encourages the renaissance of its coal industry overseas.
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Anchor Moy
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Re: Too Dirty for China ? Hunan Coal Plant Moves to Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Post by Anchor Moy » Sun Sep 01, 2019 1:52 am

:evil: Just when you think it can't get any worse. This is from the same article, a bit further along.
Before the first two coal plants were built, local campaigners organised a protest march during Sihanoukville’s “Sea Festival”. The Cambodian government responded by setting up a forum for company representatives to address complaints in the capital city of Phnom Penh, according to Cheap Sotheary, coordinator for the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), who was involved in the protest.

The representatives pledged to control pollution and provide healthcare to the surrounding communities – promises Cheap said have not been kept. Villagers were largely unaware of the adverse health effects of the plants, which they were told would bring cheaper electricity and jobs, she added.

“We tried to campaign against the construction, but it was not successful, so the construction continued.”

Since the coal plants were built, electricity access has improved, and electricity rates are lower. But locals are also bearing the hidden costs of coal power.

The coal ash snowing down on Peng Mom’s village has had the most pronounced effect. Not only Peng Mom and Phok Nge’s families, but nearly all the villagers in Ou Treh have experienced health issues, mirroring the wave of sickness that coal and other industrial waste brought to the community in Hunan a few years ago.
The ash, which is removed from the coal plants in the process of generating power to reduce air pollution, contains heavy metals and needs to be handled and stored carefully. But in Sihanoukville, it is being trucked to the processing plant next to the village and refined into a product for cement-making, a growing business in the midst of Cambodia’s real estate boom.

The volume of coal ash will likely increase, as the cast-off Hunan Chuangyuan plant is installed in Sihanoukville, and the two existing coal plants complete expansions.

Peng Mom and Phok Nge have been working with their neighbours and village chief to petition higher levels of government to have the coal-ash processing plant shut down and moved away from residential areas.

After gathering thumbprints for a petition, 42 families in the community formally filed a complaint in early June. They got the attention of the provincial governor, who inspected the site and threatened to close the plant if it does not clean up its operations in the next few months.
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