Fears of toxic leakage bring call for factory inspections
The NationA group of activists yesterday called for mandatory inspections of possible toxic waste left in all flooded industrial estates, before floodwater is drained to public areas as operations resume.
Speaking at a Bangkok seminar, Human Rights Commission head Nirand Phithakwatchara said an open letter would be delivered to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra asking her to order mandatory inspections.
Wastewater and toxic substances need to be treated or neutralised before being discharged from the estates to public areas, while factory owners will be asked to cooperate by providing details about industrial chemicals in their storage.
The organisations supporting the request are the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), Thai Society of Toxicology (TST), Ecoalert Thailand, GreenPeace Southeast Asia and the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee.
At a House session yesterday, relevant agencies gave updates concerning possible toxic contamination at industrial estates, with Pollution Control Department acting directorgeneral Worrasas Aphaiphong reporting no chemical or toxic leakage had been found in the department's own inspections over the past three weeks. The only problem found was general contamination of flood water, especially at Nava Nakon estate in Pathum Thani.
Worrasas said that EM liquid could be used to treat stagnant water, but with effectiveness limited to floods of no more than one metre in depth. "Overuse of EM liquid or EM balls would only taint flood water further," he told the House panel on Land, Natural Resources and the Environment.
With the inspections imposed, the department could require factory owners to treat water or neutralise pollution more effectively and thoroughly before it was drained out, he added.
Phongthep Jaruphornphan, deputy directorgeneral of the Department of Industrial Works, said toxic substances had been moved to safe locations by factories in preparation for the floods. There were up to 40,000 factories flooded, including 900 largescale plants in Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya, he added.
TST head Songsak Srianuchart said information on chemicals stored volunteered by factory owners would be most useful in case of leakage.
TEI acting chief Thongchai Phannasawas said mandatory inspections were crucial in detecting toxic substances, and subsequent neutralisation or treatment within the compound before floodwater was drained out of the estates.
Amnaj Buasua, who represents villagers living near the Rojana Industrial Estate, recently complained that pollution had spewed into his community when factories started the cleaning operation. "Why don't they tell us anything? Their actions have affected us," he said.
He said relevant agencies, especially the Pollution Control Department, should show social responsibility and take action.
"I hope the government will advise factories on how to dispose of chemical waste," he said.http://www.nationmultimedia.com/
-- The Nation 2011-11-11