PCD begins Klity lead clean-up

KANCHANABURI: The Pollution Control Department (PCD) began removing lead-contaminated sediment from Klity village Friday, but says it only has the budget to complete half the task.

  • Published: 30/03/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

It follows a Supreme Administrative Court decision early this year ordering the agency to clean up the village.

The sediment, which came from a lead processing plant located upstream from Klity Creek, has been stored in eight pits in the Thong Pha Phum district village for several years amid debate over who was responsible for its removal.

After initially saying they would leave the creek to recover through "natural rehabilitation" following the court order in January, the PCD began an active clean-up operation yesterday.

PCD chief Wichien Jungrungruang said there were about 1,355 cubic metres of lead-contaminated sediment being kept in eight pits at the village.

Less than half of that, or about 570 cu m, will be removed from four pits due to budget restraints.

He said the department had hired waste management firm Better World Green for 7 million baht to remove the sediment, which will be transported to a hazardous waste treatment plant in Saraburi province.

Mr Wichien said the department had to wait for more funding before it could proceed with the removal of sediment in the remaining four pits.

But the most challenging task is the clean-up of Klity Creek itself, he said.

A PCD source said there are about 10,000 tonnes of lead-contaminated sediment in the creek and officials are still designing measures to remove the sediment without spreading it further.

The entire clean-up operation would take up to three years, Mr Wichien said.

Nitipon Tantiwanich, Klity village head, said there were also several piles of lead tailings that had been left in the jungle.

The tailings were dumped in the open and villagers were afraid that the toxic waste could contaminate the soil and water, he said. He wanted authorities to inspect the piles and remove them.

"We understand that the department does not have the budget, but at least tell us what they are planning to do with the lead tailings," Mr Nitipon said.

Mr Wichien said his department had already inspected the area and found five piles of lead tailings - about 900 cu m - in the forest. He promised to remove them from the area.

Klity villagers, who have suffered serious health impacts from the lead contamination, filed administrative charges against the PCD in 2004 asking the court to order the agency to clean up the environment.

The court reached a final verdict in January, ordering the PCD to clean up the contaminated water, soil and sediment in the village.

It also ordered the PCD to pay 3.9 million baht compensation to each of the 22 plaintiffs in the case.

Pracha Arunsrisuwa, a 47-year-old Karen who was one of the 22 plaintiffs, said the villagers agreed to use the compensation to set up a village fund, which would be used for medical treatment, tap water systems, and low-interest loans for villagers in need.

Surachai Trong-ngam, a lawyer from EnLaw which provides legal assistance to Klity villagers in the case, lauded the PCD for its prompt response. He supported the PCD's target to complete the clean-up within three years.

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Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
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