Experts question pollution 'solution'
Environmental experts are concerned by a suggestion from the Pollution Control Department that the lead-contaminated Klity Creek could be cleaned up by ''natural rehabilitation'' rather than by active measures.
- Published: 27/01/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Fresh from a four million baht compensation victory over the department for allowing lead contamination of the creek that almost destroyed their lives, the villagers and environmental activists slammed the natural rehabilitation idea as just an excuse to do nothing.
After battling the department for nine years to get compensation, the villagers were hoping that the next step in their fight would be an immediate court order for the department to restore the creek and remove the threat to their lives.
Instead, they have been told that the department may opt for the long-drawn out process of natural rehabilitation.
Department head Wichian Jungrungruang said natural rehabilitation was one of the options under consideration. However, the opinions of experts and concerned parties would be sought first.
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The department will send a team to the creek in Kanchanaburi's Thong Pha Phum district to assess the lead levels.
Mr Wichian said the department would hold a meeting to assess opinions on how to clean up the contaminated creek. Natural rehabilitation is one option that should not be immediately ruled out, he said.
The department will calculate the cost and make a decision. But Mr Wichian said that initially the lead load should be removed.
He is concerned that the lead processing house responsible for the pollution is still capable of releasing lead into the creek and must be assessed before any action is taken.
The department will immediately remove about 1,200 tonnes of the 3,000 tonnes of lead remaining near the creek under a current budget of about seven million baht. The rest will be done next year, he said.
Surachai Trongngam, from the Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants (Enlaw) and a leading lawyer in the compensation case in the Administrative Court, said the battle for damages was just the first step in gaining justice for the Klity Creek villagers.
To solve lead contamination in the creek permanently, the source of the pollution had to be removed.
Mr Surachai said the court case aimed to set a precedent for environmental protection in Thailand.
While there are several agencies and laws to protect the environment, they are hardly enforced. By filing the complaint, it was hoped to help force the responsible agencies to do their job to protect people and the environment.
''The damage was to [the Klity villagers'] right to live in a good environment that is guaranteed in the Constitution,'' Mr Surachai said.
Supaporn Malailoy, a coordinator at EnLaw, said: ''We seem to be happy to develop the country quickly and push the industrial sector hard without caring about controlling and solving problems.
''There are costs that we do not take into account which is damage to the environment and communities. When there is contamination, it is clear that we are failing to solve it in time.''
About the author
- Writer: Piyaporn Wongruang
- Position: Reporter