EARTH Thailand

Map Ta Phut verdict due today

The Nation 02 December 2009 

All parties are hopeful the Supreme Administrative Court today will clear up confusion over the future of the 76 suspended industrial projects in Map Ta Phut.

The court will announce its verdict on the injunction at 1pm.

Possible winners

Among the 76 projects subject to the court's injunction, at least 13 could be allowed to proceed as they are designed to ease environmental problems. They are:


l Clean energy and product quality enhancement/Rayong Refinery

l Gas recycling enhancement/HMC Polymers

l Clean energy, oil vapour controlling unit installation/Star Petroleum Refining

l DME removal unit, hydrocarbon scrubber installation/Bangkok Synthetics

l Oil vapour controlling unit installation/PTT Aromatics and Refining

l Air pollution improvement/Indorama Petrochem

l Wastewater treatment improvement/PTT

l Chlorine vaporiser and wet scrubber installation/Aditya Berla Chemicals (Thailand)

l Environment report on synthetic rubber production/BST Elastomers

l Environment report on hydrogen production/MTP HP JV (Thailand)

l Environment report on plastic powder production/Thai Plastic and Chemicals

l Industrial waste service centre/Siam Environmental Technology

l Second central utility centre/PPT Utility

Source: Document annexed to the lawsuit against eight government agencies

Federation of Thai Industries vice chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol said private companies would be all ears at the announcement and that all of the companies involved, including PTT and the Siam Cement Group, would send representatives to be present.

He said all companies were ready to honour the verdict whatever it might be, in the belief it would lead to a resolution to the industrial disputes.

"All of the projects, regardless of the scale of the environmental problems involved, are prepared to comply with Article 67 of the Constitution. We're simply waiting for clear rules. The four-party committee is considering having projects concurrently undertake environmental-impact assessments (EIAs) and health-impact assessments (HIAs). At a meeting today, the committee will consider whether there should be one or more than one independent body to give opinions on industrial projects," Payungsak said.

If the appeal is ended, private companies will then closely watch how the Central Administrative Court rules on Rayong citizens' request for termination of all 76 project licences, he added.

PTT Aromatics and Refining CEO Chainoi Puankosoom, a member of the four-party committee tasked with solving industrial disputes, hopes the Supreme Administrative Court will allow the projects to proceed.

If not, he said the PTT Group was ready to follow any rules for the convenience of all parties.

Energy Minister Wannarat Charnnukul said if the court ruled against the projects, his ministry might review the enforcement date of the Euro IV environmental standard, because four of the projects were geared to raise oil quality to that level.

PTT and its subsidiaries yesterday gained 5.8-9.13 per cent from Monday's share-price closing, which pushed the composite stock index up 3.04 per cent.

The index rose on resumed orders for stocks involved in the 76 projects on expectation the verdict would clear up any doubts over these businesses' direction.

Investor confidence was also boosted by an end to enforcement of the Internal Security Act, the UAE central bank's move to ease local banks' liquidity and Fitch Ratings' revision of four Thai banks' outlook, said an analyst from Phillip Securities (Thailand).

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said if the injunction remained, the government would have to defend itself in the main case before the Central Administrative Court. If the injunction is lifted, all of the projects will come under resolutions of the four-party committee.

The Cabinet yesterday approved a Bt405-million budget to ease problems in Map Ta Phut in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The budget will cover waste, water shortages and healthcare.

Detcharat Sukkamnerd, an expert with the National Health Commission, said he favoured the court allowing only some small projects of limited environmental impact to proceed. Then others could follow the HIA guidelines laid out by the commission and recently submitted to the National Environment Policy and Planning Committee.

The four-party committee on Monday agreed to revise the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's EIA regulations, in order to clear up a lack of clarity over the independent body to be set up, the selection process for its members and the time line for hearing opinions.

It resolved that the PM's Office regulation on the independent body would be used.

Next week, the committee will recommend to Abhisit that private organisations and universities nominate candidates to the independent body and that the candidates choose the best among themselves.

Suthi Atchasai, leader of the People's Eastern Network, whose moves against government agencies led to the injunction against the 76 projects, said the court should rule in accordance with the Constitution.

If it rules in favour of the defendants, the network will promptly issue a statement.

Srisuwan Janya, president of the Stop Global Warming Association, which is behind the lawsuit, earlier said the dispute would be solved if all of the projects agreed to conduct HIAs that included public hearings.

He also encouraged them to conduct the HIAs concurrently and be open to greater public scrutiny.