Between 1968 and 1973 it is estimated that nearly 539,129 tons of ordnance was air-dropped on central and eastern Cambodia - triple the amount dropped on Japan during World War II. Unexploded and partially exploded bombs continue to have devastating consequences for the people of Cambodia. For a thorough analysis of the historical context of these events, please refer to Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia, by William Shawcross (Simon and Schuster, 1979).

In addition to enduring an intensive bombing campaign, between 1970 and 1991 Cambodia suffered heavy use of ground-to-ground armaments, the result of conflicts among the Cambodia government, Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese forces.

This multiplicity of conflicts resulted in widespread unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination throughout the country. The preponderance of munitions were air-dropped in eastern Cambodia. In central, western and northern Cambodia existing UXO is a mix of ground-to-ground munitions, including mortars, artillery shells, rockets and grenades. Landmine contamination is significant in western Cambodia along the so-called "K5" mine belt bordering Thailand.

Humanitarian organizations have been working for over a decade to clear remaining UXO and landmines from

Cambodian soil. It is a slow and laborious process that will continue in some form for decades to come. In the meantime, Cambodian people living in UXO and landmine contaminated areas have adapted. One of the phenomena that has developed over a number of years is the civilian use of war era ordnance. Perhaps most common is local people's collection of unexploded and abandoned ordnance in Cambodia in order to sell metal casings from UXO as scrap metal.

The Scrap Metal Industry and Tampering
Almost all scrap metal collected in Cambodia is eventually routed through Poipet, on its way to Thailand. When world steel prices rise, so does the Thais' purchase price.(1) This affects the price paid by the scrap yards in Poipet, by the middlemen who transport the scrap to Poipet, by the smaller scrap yards at the town and village level,(2) and eventually the scrap collectors themselves who are scouring the countryside for metal.(3) There also seems to be evidence

Footnotes:
(1) Interview with Po Lang, manager Kilo 4 scrap yard, Poipet Cambodia, November, 2004.
(2) Interview with San Sophi, owner, scrap yard, Kompong Thom, Cambodia, October, 2004.
(3) Field Interview with Neek Chang, scrap metal collector, Kompong Thom Province, January, 2005.