EARTH Thailand

Wastewater sparks local ire

Bangkok Post 08 June 2020 | Anchalee Kongrut

Lawsuit threat over recycling factory

Farm villagers in Ban Khai district in Rayong province have threatened legal action over wastewater pollution from a local recycling factory.

"Over the past few years, we have sent petitions to every channel possible, yet the pollution in our community has not been resolved. As our country still has a court and judicial system, we will seek help from the administrative court," said Paradorn Chanasoonthorn, founder of Network of Surface Water Monitoring, a local environmental watchdog.

The move came after a meeting on Friday between community members, the local authority and a representative from Win Process, the company that runs the recycling factory.

Kasem Srichompoo, adviser to Win Process, told the Bangkok Post that "the wastewater comes from a land plot near the factory. But it flows into our area."

The Pollution Control Department on Thursday took further samples of soil after wastewater reportedly leaked into a local rubber plantation and ruined 10 rai of crops.

The outcome of Friday's meeting was an agreement to establish a tripartite panel containing local officials, community members and a representative from the company.

Mr Kasem said that although he believed the company had done nothing wrong, it would help to try to solve the environmental issue.

However, village spokesman Mr Paradorn said his group were not satisfied with the outcome, no formal admission to the source of the pollution had been made and no compensation for damage had been offered.

"More sample collecting and another panel. Villagers want a solution. Officials have come to collect soil and water samples several times already," he told the Bangkok Post yesterday.

Dawan Chantarahassadi, a conservationist monitoring industrial waste said the case is the outcome of a lopsided policy issued in 2016 by the now-dissolved National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

To promote recycling factories and some renewable energy, the NCPO permitted these factories to be located in community areas after they were previously confined to industrial zones, she said.

"Recycling factories should not be permitted to operate in the middle of farm communities like Ban Khai," Ms Dawan said. "It is hard to prevent environmental damage and the state does not have the capacity to control these factories."