EARTH Thailand

Thailand still needs “Pollution Control Zone”

EARTH REPORT 23 August 2022

University’s research agency says Thailand is not yet ready to lift any of its Pollution Control Zone, following academic evaluation.

Chula Unisearch, a research agency within Chulalongkorn University, held a technical hearing on the readiness to lift Thailand’s many Pollution Control Zone (#PCZ) - eventually concluding that none of the zones are ready for lifting. #Rayong zone remains one of the least ready, due to pollution exceeding standard levels. A key pollutant identified there has been Volatile Organic Compounds or #VOCs.

The PCZ was first established under the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental and Quality Act, B.E. 2535 or Environment Act 1992. If an area is deemed by the National Environmental Board (NEB) to be severely polluted such that the natural environment is under risk of damage and population health is under danger, it can be declared as PCZ so that measures can be taken to control, reduce, and eliminate pollutants.

In the past years, agencies under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) has been working on lifting the PCZs. Reportedly, there was a plan to eliminate at least 3 PCZs within 2022. It was said that this plan follows the national reform plans (regarding natural resources and environment), a widely debated plan introduced under the government of General Prayuth Chan-o-cha. 

Penchom Saetang, Director of EARTH Thailand, was invited to the technical hearing, and gave her opinions on the issue. “If we want to aim to lift the Pollution Control Zones, we must have information on the types of pollutants that exist and are being released in those zones. A Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (#PRTR) would grant public access to this information. But since Thailand has no PRTR law, we still lack information that will indicate whether the pollution situation in these zones have improved so much that the PCZ should be lifted.”

The PRTR law has been introduced in most #OECD countries, and are used to ensure factories and other sources of pollution report the release of chemicals to the environment to responsible agencies. The information would be made publicly accessible for proper environmental monitoring. International exports have spoke of the benefits of the law to their environmental improvement. Thai civil society, including EARTH Thailand, EnLAW (มูลนิธินิติธรรมสิ่งแวดล้อม - EnLAW) and Greenpeace Thailand, are campaigning for the law.

Penchom spoke further that the criteria for evaluating PCZs should be improved. Specific PCZs should be established such as Air Pollution PCZ, Water Pollution PCZ, as well as Waste PCZ. She further stated that there should also be a specific PCZ for lands contaminated by use of hazardous chemicals or illegal dumping of industrial wastes. Under the ongoing epidemic of wastes, more contaminated areas of this sorts are appearing.