EARTH Thailand

Factories to monitor emissions

Bangkok Post 29 January 2021 | Lamonphet Apisitniran

Up to 600 factories nationwide are being ordered to closely monitor their emissions to better curb air pollutants as the Industry Ministry steps up efforts to cope with PM2.5 ultra-fine dust, now blanketing most parts of Bangkok.

The mandatory requirement, with a maximum fine of 200,000 baht for violators, will be enforced under a new ministerial law expected to take effect next year, according to the ministry.

It replaces the existing 2001 law that is considered outdated as it covers only large industrial estates in some provinces.

The new law will be applied to all factories countrywide, including those in Bangkok, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan, though 600 factories are priorities and ordered to install continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) that operate around the clock, officials said.

"The government wants all factories that are likely to emit PM2.5 dust to install CEMS," said Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.

He said his ministry is worried about harmful dust levels caused by factories, ageing fossil fuel-powered vehicles and bush fires, as the pollutants can seriously harm people's health in the long term.

Particulate matter (PM) 2.5 are particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter. This size, which is one-twentieth the diameter of a human hair, can easily lodge in human lungs.

The ministry said many factories have cooperated with its policy to install CEMS. They are mostly steel and stone mills, and those in the petroleum industry.

Under the existing law, 74 factories in provinces such as Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan and Chon Buri already installed CEMS. Five factories in key industrial areas, including Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong, also have the equipment.

The government will continue to add more factories to the CEMS installation list under this policy to cope with PM2.5 dust, said Prakob Vivitjinda, chief of the Industrial Works Department.

"We want to monitor factories and enforce the law until we reach the target of 600 factories," he said.

The Pollution Control Department warned residents of Bangkok and neighbouring provinces on Monday to brace for a drop in air quality, as changing wind patterns this week are expected to trap dust particles over the city.

Siwaporn Rangsiyanon, the department's deputy spokesperson, said air quality in the capital and its vicinity has improved over the past few days thanks to tighter controls on open-air burning and vehicle emissions.

A change in wind direction also helped clear some smog from the city.