In the dragnet

Yet another case of dumping of banned waste in developing countries has surfaced, this time in Cambodia. In the latest crackdown, three persons were arrested for unauthorised shipping of plastic bags and other trash into the country.

During a raid on a Phnom Penh dock, the police discovered more than 64 tonnes of plastic waste stashed in five shipping containers. The waste products were shipped from Shanghai, China, and arrived at Cambodia's main seaport of Sihanoukville. What's in store for the offenders? A us $12,650 fine or a one-year jail term or both.

The seizure has raised many an eyebrow. The question being asked is: how was the shipment cleared by the customs? Authorities are conducting tests to determine if the waste contains toxic substances. "Cambodia, being poor, appears to have become a place for dumping waste by developed countries,' laments Khut Sopheang, a deputy municipal prosecutor. In 1998, a shipment of 3,000 tonnes of toxic waste from Taiwan was discovered dumped near Sihanoukville.