EARTH Thailand

Return of lead contamination to Klity Creek prompts locals to lodge petition

Bangkok Post 19 April 2020

Villagers affected by lead contamination in Klity Creek in Thong Pha Phum district in Kanchanaburi have petitioned the Administrative Court to suspend the rehabilitation scheme after lead sediment was once again detected in the water.

The Klity villagers submitted their petition to the court last week, said Surapong Kongchantuk, director of Karen Studies and Development Centre.

The villagers claim that lead sediment resuspension -- the suspension and redistribution of previously deposited sediment particles in the water column due to hydrodynamic forcing -- has resulted in the lead contamination level in the creek surging 100-fold, said Mr Surapong.

The Pollution Control Department's 460-million-baht rehabilitation scheme, as ordered in a court ruling in late 2017, was now in the process of pulling out billions of tonnes of lead-contaminated sediment particles, he said.

Villagers, assisted by engineering and environmental rehabilitating experts, had conducted tests and found contaminated particles within a four-kilometre radius of the sediment pulling site, he said.

The 100-fold increase in lead contamination and the 10-fold rise in the volume of sediment particles massively exceed the limits specified in the terms of reference for the programme, he said.

Mr Surapong said when the level of the sediment particles rises by just 10%, the ToR stipulate that the dredging process must be suspended until the level returns to normal again.

Many villagers rely on the fish and other aquatic animals in the creek as well as plants and vegetable grown along its banks, he said.

The petition was submitted along with a request for an urgent hearing and a call for the department and other agencies concerned to explain how the contamination has been able to happen, Mr Surapong said.