EARTH Thailand

Blast-hit firm gives Bt16.6m to nearby communities

The Nation 24 June 2012  

A Bangkok Synthetics Co (BST) affiliate whose toluene plant at Rayong's Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate was hit by a fire and explosion that killed 11 people and wounded 194 others on May 5 presented Bt16.6 million assistance money for remedial measures to Rayong Governor Seni Jittakasem received the money, which will fund community-development projects, from company executives in front of community representatives.

The company also reported that it had taken care of the deceased workers’ families, paid medical bills for all the wounded persons, paid for repairs to damaged homes and arranged for mobile medical teams to visit communities throughout May.

However, Soi Ruam Pattana community leader Bovornwit Phuchong expressed the view that the remedial payment in the form of community development funds for all 33 communities seemed like “hush money” to keep people from complaining in future about the company’s projects.

He said more money should be given to severely hit zones, rather than paying all 33 communities a flat rate of Bt300 per resident, because some communities weren’t affected.

Nong Faeb Community leader Ithi Jaemjaeng said the community-development fund could be viewed by some as an attempt to stop people from asking about the progress of the probe into the cause of the explosion, which has not yet been determined after a month of investigating. He urged officials to determine the cause of the blast, because it would help prevent similar incidents at the other 100 factories at the estate.