EARTH Thailand

Hundreds evacuated after site gas leak

Bangkok Post 13 December 2009  


RAYONG : Hundreds of construction workers were evacuated and four hospitalised after a gas leak at Map Ta Phut industrial estate - the second such incident in a week.

The leak was reported at 11am yesterday by workers at the construction site of Glow Energy power plant.

All workers were ordered to leave the area. The four who inhaled the gas suffered dizziness and nausea and began vomiting.

They were taken to Map Ta Phut Hospital. Two were later released while two were kept in for observation after they complained of chest pain.

An initial inspection by the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) found the gas had leaked from a factory which was recently closed and said it was caused by a technical glitch.

However, a more thorough investigation is required, according to the IEAT's environment watch centre.

The latest leak has intensified concerns about health and environmental conditions at the Map Ta Phut industrial estate.

Last Saturday, butene-1 gas leaked from a safety valve on the Singaporean tanker Global Hime while loading was under way at the terminal operated by Map Ta Phut Tank Terminal Co. Sixty-two local residents fell sick and required medical treatment.

Several chemical leak incidents have taken place in recent weeks after the Administrative Court ruled to suspend 76 industrial projects out of environment and health and safety concerns.

A four-party panel chaired by former prime minister Anand Panyarachun has been appointed to resolve the problems at Map Ta Phut.

The Supreme Administrative Court later lifted an injunction against 11 of 76 projects. The 65 others remain suspended until a trial is finalised.

Meanwhile, Srisuwan Janya, chairman of the Anti-Global Warming Association, yesterday lashed out at the Anand committee which on Friday reviewed a list of industrial activities which it said seriously damage the environment, health and communities.

He said that the committee earlier accepted a list of 19 damaging activities and agreed to use them as criteria for screening harmful industrial activities.

Mr Srisuwan suspected self-interest played a part in the review, saying that one of the 19 activities involved an irrigation scheme in the Mekong River.

He alleged that a cabinet member was keen on pushing the project and might have pulled strings on the Anand panel, which failed to finalise the list of harmful industrial activities at its Friday meeting. The list of 19 activities posing possible serious environmental risks was compiled from public hearings last year.