EARTH Thailand

Cops raid shady electronic waste plant

Bangkok Post 25 May 2018 | Sonthanaporn Inchan

Taiwan boss 'admits to illegal imports'

Police and officials from the Industry Ministry launched a raid Thursday on a factory which allegedly imported hazardous electronic waste from abroad to Lat Krabang industrial estate in Bangkok.

Deputy national police chief Wirachai Songmetta, who led the operation, said  a Taiwanese man, identified only as Sin, who is the managing director of the factory, admitted his firm had illegally imported electronic components from Hong Kong, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom over the past three years.

Those components were destined for delivery to electronic waste recycling factories in Chachoengsao province.

Mr Sin, however, said the plant at the industrial estate has only been operating for three months as it was relocated from Samut Prakan.

Pol Gen Wirachai said he believed some foreign investors had a hand in the illegal business.

Operators of the factory will initially face seven charges including false declarations, customs tax evasion and customs evasion under the Customs Act, according to the police.

Other charges include the alleged import of hazardous materials as cellphone battery waste was also found during the inspection.

Interior Ministry chief inspector-general Surapol Chamart said the factory held only a licence to carry out domestic industrial waste disposal. Therefore, it was illegal for it to import hazardous waste from foreign countries.

An investigation must be launched to determine how the company imported so much industrial waste into the country, he added.

The raid came after a massive crackdown, also headed by Pol Gen Wirachai, was launched on five electronic waste recycling plants in Chachoengsao on Tuesday and Wednesday to stamp out pollution caused by industrial waste.

The five plants are: WMD (Wai Mei Dat) Thai Recycling Co Ltd and Yongtang Thai Co Ltd, both in Plaeng Yao district; and New Sky Metal Co Ltd, Sapcharoen Recycle Co Ltd and Sanlian Thai Co Ltd, all of which are located in Phanom Sarakham district.

An inspection at New Sky Metal Co suspected the factory was separating electronic waste illegally. Piles of the waste were scattered across the plant's premises which cover hundreds of rai.

Pol Gen Wirachai said the plant's 15 licences allow it to separate only unusable materials.

However, the raid found electronic waste derived from electric appliances which can produce harmful substances.

A large quantity of dangerous electric waste was also found at the remaining factories. Some unused electronic parts were also moulded into metal sheets.

Pol Gen Wirachai said the moulding process can cause leakage of harmful substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium which can cause cancer in humans.

Electronic waste smuggling has increased after China banned the import of such materials. Hundreds of tonnes have ended up in Thailand.