EARTH Thailand

Pollutant register vital, govt told

Bangkok Post 07 July 2022

Thailand needs a pollutant release and transfer register (PRTR) law so the public can be well informed about the risk of industrial pollution and the risk of disaster posed by factories, a seminar was told.

PRTR is a system for collecting and disseminating information about environmental releases and transfers of hazardous substances from industrial and other facilities.

Held on Tuesday, one year after an explosion and fire at the Ming Dih Chemical Company plant in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli district, the online forum was attended by environmental advocacy groups.

Phenchom Saetang, manager of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand, said she believed the country would cope better with its growing environmental problems if it had a PRTR law.

"The law isn't intended to stop businesses from emitting or releasing pollutants into the environment, but it will require them to report to regulators what type of and how much pollutants they create each year," Ms Penchom said.

The data will then be entered into a database managed by the government, which would provide the input for government efforts to create more effective measures to protect the environment and the public from these pollutants, she said.

"The Department of Industrial Works had always claimed it didn't have [enough] information about which factories created what pollutants," she said.

According to Ms Phenchom, a number of Chinese firms had their factories shut down after they were found to be causing pollution problems in China and several have since shifted their operations to Thailand.

"Realising it is impossible for the government to totally control polluting industrial facilities, China now allows its people to be part of a surveillance network and report any suspected incidents through a mobile application," she said.

Closer to home, up to 388 people living near the Ming Dih factory in Samut Prakan were rushed to hospital after an explosion and fire in July 2021, she said, adding harmful chemical residues remain underneath the factory building ruins. "One year has passed but the impact of Ming Dih on people's health remains," she said.