EARTH Thailand

E-waste crackdown reaches Bangkok, as police sniff hazard in Laem Chabang Estate

The Nation 30 May 2018

A crackdown on illegal electronic waste dumping and imports expanded to Chon Buri yesterday when police searched Laem Chabang Industrial Estate.

The crackdown began on last Tuesday when National police deputy chief Pol General Wirachai Songmetta led a raid on a waste management plant in Chachoengsao’s Plaeng Yao district, responding to an allegation that hazardous industrial waste had been smuggled from abroad to be burned at the facility, spreading toxins in the area.

Yesterday, Wirachai led a team from the Industry Ministry and Customs Department to inspect factories on Laem Chabang Estate after allegations they had falsely reported their imported cargoes. The search netted a consignment of electric wiring from Japan and Hong Kong which was stuffed into five containers. Wirachai said the police would charge the factory owner for illegal smuggling of electronic waste, and examine the permit of the facility.

The Ministry has ordered nationwide action and instructed local Provincial Industry Offices to inspect all electronic-waste recycling plants in their areas to ensure factory operations are in line with laws and regulations.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has thrown his full support behind the nationwide inspection of the e-waste recycling business, stressing the urgency of strict law enforcement and improvement of business operations.

The scale of the problem first became apparent when the raid last week in Chachoengsao uncovered huge piles of keyboards, electrical wires and computers sitting ready for workers to recycle or discard by burning or other methods. 

Burning electronic circuit boards to extract heavy metals risked contamination of the surrounding environment, while hard plastic parts were toxic when burnt or would take millions of years to disintegrate when buried, said Wirachai, who led the raid by police and officials against WMD (Wai Mei Dat) Thai Recycling Co Ltd’s 100-rai factory in Tambon Plaeng Yao Plaeng Yao. He added that this hazardous industrial waste required specific and proper disposal methods.

The unnamed Chinese owner of the facility has been accused of importing potentially dangerous electronic waste under false Customs declarations.