EARTH Thailand

Plants urged to cut output, clear dust

Bangkok Post 23 January 2020 | Lamonphet Apisitniran and Yuthana Praiwan

The Industry Ministry has asked for cooperation from 68,757 factories nationwide to reduce their production capacity temporarily in order to tackle the ultra-fine dust causing widespread air pollution.

Factories are being told to install continuous emission monitoring systems in a bid to connect with an air pollution report under the management of the Industrial Works Department.

Suchada Thaensap, the ministry's spokeswoman, said Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit has ordered many agencies to launch urgent measures and adjust some working procedures in order to prevent recurring PM2.5 pollution.

"The ministry expects that most factories will agree with this short-term action to reduce air pollution from the industrial sector," Ms Suchada said. "In addition, the ministry will monitor the operations of factories and outline an inspection system to keep an eye on those that have been reported for released emissions."

She said the ministry will team up with the Royal Thai Air Force to tackle pollution through special technologies and drones.

The ministry is pushing factories to adopt better technology and upgrade operations in an effort to control released emissions.

Moreover, the Office of the Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB) will discourage farmers who burn sugar-cane plantation areas by deducting 30 baht per tonne for burnt sugar cane sold at warehouses.

According to the OCSB, 60% of sugar-cane output is harvested by burning despite the practice being banned in many locations.

In addition, the ministry will control mining projects nationwide by inspecting the dust-clearing system in each mine. Operators are urged to clean their mines and trucks in order to reduce accumulated dust.

Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the FTI has sought cooperation from commercial vehicle distributors to support a 20% discount for vehicle maintenance and to replace spare parts for motorists and transport operators.

Roughly 70% of air pollution is caused by emissions from vehicles on roads. Diesel pickups, trucks and buses release higher emissions than petrol vehicles.

"The FTI expects each company to cooperate with this short-term measure, scheduled for one month," Mr Supant said. "This will encourage motorists and fleet operators to upgrade and change old engines."

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the promotion of biodiesel B10 and B20 can reduce pollution released from vehicles.

Diesel-fuelled vehicles account for 54% of total fuel consumption, while petrol vehicles represent 26%.

The remaining fuel usage consists of jet fuel (15%) and bunker oil (5%).

According to the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency, B10 can reduce dust emissions by 3.5-13.5% and B20 by 20-25%.