EARTH Thailand

Civil society groups call on DIW and PCD to back PRTR bill in preventing and solving pollution problems



EARTH REPORT 17 April 2024


Thai civil society organizations led by the Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH Thailand), Environmental Law Foundation (มูลนิธินิติธรรมสิ่งแวดล้อม - EnLAW), and Greenpeace Thailand met with directors of the Department of Industrial Works (DIW), and Pollution Control Department (PCD) this month, urging two agencies to join forces backing the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) to become a law. 


With the support from the public, the groups have submitted the draft PRTR law with over 12,000 signatures to the parliament on 14 February 2024. (Read more: )


On 2 April 2024, the groups met with Chulapong Taweesri, director of the Department of Industrial Works (DIW) to discuss ways to push forward the PRTR legislation.


Penchom Saetang, director of the EARTH Thailand, pointed out the importance of having the PRTR law that will help the DIW in regulating industries and various sources of industrial pollution more effectively. Currently, more than 50 countries such as the United States and Japan have a PRTR system to effectively regulate factories, determine emergency responses, and enhance safety. 


“We want DIW to help push forward the PRTR, otherwise, the pollution problem in Thailand will be only worsening. We believe that the people’s proposed version of the PRTR law will be an essential tool for citizens to safeguard their health and communities, and for environment protection as a whole”, said Penchom.


The director of the DIW admitted that the agency supports and agrees in principle with the draft PRTR as it will bring benefits to Thai society, nevertheless, the DIW still concerns that information disclosure might in turn affect the industry’s business due to its confidentiality and competitive advantage issues.


However, Penchom emphasized that environmental information disclosure could significantly enhance the industry credibility, thereby improving corporate sustainability performance. Moreover, it is accepted as an important aspect of the corporate social responsibility, and all industrialized countries have already adopted the PRTR legal system. Therefore, it has been proven beyond doubt. 


In addition, on 12 April 2024, the groups also met with Preeyaporn Suwanaged, director of the Pollution Control Department (PCD), to discuss the role of the PCD in PRTR law as the agency has a vital role to establish the open pollution database that can be accessible for the public.

Penchom pointed out that in practice, the PCD has a limited legislative mandate to address the pollution matters as its main duty is to monitor and report, but does not have legal authority to punish polluters or even order other government agencies to act. While the DIW’s primary objective is to promote industrial growth, its other conflictive role is to control industrial pollution. However, the PRTR law could be an important mechanism that providing the PCD a vital authority to supervise and regulate the data on the amount and types of pollutants from industries and create a healthier balancing role between two agencies.


“Thai society is currently experiencing with the incident of hazardous cadmium waste. Therefore, it is high time to have a dialogue on PRTR”, said director of PCD.


“Prevention is the key principle here, and it is better than cure. If we start doing everything well at the source, the problems will unlikely occur. The PCD adheres to the principle of prevention, which is our priority. This is similar to the purpose of the PRTR, and it can help achieve pollution prevention at the root cause”, said director of PCD.


Lastly, the civil society groups emphasize that the people's version of the PRTR law will help establish the country's pollution prevention standards as well as strengthen the authority of the PCD in preventing pollution more effectively with open data that can be accessible to everyone.


“We believe that the PCD holds the key to solving long-term pollution problems in Thailand,” said Penchom.


Photo by Naratip Thongtanom (EARTH Thailand)


Related story: "Fast-track law on pollution", EDITORIAL, Bangkok Post 16 February 2024


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