A Chinese corporation said it will send a team of engineering specialists to Cambodia later this month to examine plans to build a new water treatment plant that will supply various eastern provinces. The proposed plant will use the Mekong River as it source.

The plan follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the state-run China Civil Engineering Construction Corp (CCECC) and the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation in January.

CCECC vice-president Tony Wong met with industry minister Cham Prasidh on April 3.

“Work is well underway, and proposal documents have been submitted to the Chinese leadership for approval. Chinese technicians and other specialists will arrive at the end of April to conduct final assessments,” said Wong.

He added that procedures to approve the import of the specialist machinery that would be needed were already underway.

According to a ministry press release, Prasidh expressed his appreciation for the swiftness of the Chinese preparations, saying they expected the team to have completed final plans for the project by the end of May.

“He believed that it was very likely that the two countries would cooperate to build the treatment plant, as it will make a huge difference in the lives of the people in the eastern part of the Kingdom, by giving them access to clean water from the Mekong River Basin,” it said.

“If we implement this large-scale project, we will help the people living along National Road 7, including in Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum and Kraie provinces, where groundwater has been contaminated with toxins and chemicals left over from the wars of the 1960s and 70s. The toxins that remain have a serious effect on animal and human health, for example in an over-representation of birth defects. This is a social burden that we cannot bear,” added Prasidh.