EARTH Thailand

Map Ta Phut scoured for pollutants

Bangkok Post 06 May 2012  

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has set up a tripartite committee to examine possible toxic contamination in the Map Ta Phut area following the chemical explosion at a factory which killed 12 people.

Ms Yingluck yesterday visited workers injured in the incident before inspecting the Bangkok Syntheics Co (BST) factory at Map Ta Phut industrial estate where the blast and fire took place on Saturday afternoon.

The prime minister, who was accompanied by Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit and Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti, also held a meeting with relevant agencies at the Map Ta Phut industrial estate office where she ordered the committee to be set up to look for toxic residue in the environment.

The committee consists of experts from the Industry Ministry, the Pollution Control Department and representatives from local communities.

The move followed mounting fear among local residents and factory workers over possible contamination of the air and water.

Mobile medical units have been dispatched to 10 communities near the factory to provide medical checkups for affected residents, Ms Yingluck said.

Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said 12 people were killed and 129 wounded in the incident.

Of the 12 killed, nine died in the explosion at the BST factory, two died at Bangkok-Rayong Hospital and one at Rayong Hospital.

Of the 129 wounded, 27 were still receiving treatment at Rayong, Map Ta Phut, Bangkok-Rayong and Queen Sirikit hospitals, Mr Surawit said.

Some factory workers living near the plant brought family members to the hospitals for medical check ups.

A BST worker, who declined to be named, brought his yonger sister to Rayong Hospital after she developed a rash possibly due to exposure to toxic chemicals from the explosion.

Charnvit Thongkhamkhiew, a foreman at the BST plant who witnessed the explosion, said it was so powerful that a pickup truck was lifted about 10m off the ground.

Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti said he had ordered the closure of the factory. He had also instructed other factories in the industrial estate to recheck their security systems since the operations of more than half of them concern chemicals.