EARTH Thailand

Police probe dump over outflow fears

Bangkok Post 28 June 2017 | Apinya Wipatayotin

Owner of industrial waste site unknown

Rayong: The Rayong industrial officer has filed a complaint with the police, asking that it investigate a deserted industrial waste site close to Dok Krai Reservoir in Pluak Daeng district.

It is suspected that 200,000 tonnes of toxic waste which went missing last year might be buried there.

The authorities were compelled to act after polluted water was discovered at the industrial waste site, which may put the reservoir at risk of contamination.

The site was also emanating an unpleasant smell caused by hydrogen sulphide.

After investigating the site, the officers suspected that 200,000 tonnes of toxic waste which reportedly went missing from a waste separation facility in the province on April 1 last year may have found its way to the deserted industrial waste site.

Pitinan Aksorn, the official from the Rayong Industrial Office, said he made a complaint to the police to find out who the owner of the site is, adding that he suspected that the pollution might be caused by the missing waste.

The industrial waste separation facility, covering an area of more than 400 rai, is now closed.

The officers examined the site and found improper industrial waste management methods, leading to polluted water and the noxious smell. Some waste had also emerged from the soil after rainfall.

Mr Pitinan said the authorities would also have to determine who the owner of the deserted dumping site was, as the contaminated area risks affecting neighbours.

"Ownership has changed hands three times," he said.

The officers found a man-made pond covered with a plastic sheet occupying a large area.

Inside the pond, they discovered the waste washed up with rain water, leading to the unpleasant odour.

"We will work with scientists to determine what the waste is and where it came from," said Mr Pitinan.

His office last year also filed a complaint regarding the industrial waste separation company upon discovering that the toxic waste had gone missing from the facility.

Meanwhile, Manop Duljam, chief of the Eastern Pollution Control Centre based in Rayong province, said that the office is now investigating the case.

He said the team will scour the site to determine whether environmental contamination has taken place.

If contamination is found, charges will be pressed against the wrongdoers, who will also be tasked with cleaning up the site, said Mr Manop.

In another development, the Pollution Control Department has been working with Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to deal with electronic waste under the framework of Asean-UNEP-IETC (International Environmental Technology Centre) Joint Activities on Waste Management.

They have agreed in principle to classify and enumerate electronics in each country to better forecast the quantity of electronic waste and set up a better supervisory system, along with cooperation on trans-boundary toxic waste management, law enforcement on electronic waste and setting up a centre to deal with electronic waste.

Cambodia is the only country in the region that has an electronic waste management law, while Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand are currently in the process of drafting bills.

As of 2016 Thailand's capacity to process industrial and toxic waste is 37.6 million tonnes annually, an estimated 2.8 million tonnes of which is toxic waste. Total capacity in 2015 was 25.8 million tonnes.

The Ministry of Industry's Department of Industrial Works plans to establish 15 regional waste management facilities nationwide as detailed in its five-year waste management plan for 2015-2019.