The recent explosion at Map Ta Phut that claimed 12 lives and caused more than 100 injuries is not the first accident there _ and certainly won't be the last. Several other mishaps have occurred in this industrial estate in Rayong over the years, but most of them passed under the media radar because nobody got killed. Many may be surprised to learn that, back in 2010, there were reports of chemical leaks at the same company involved in the disaster on May 5.
You can point the finger at the factory or its owners but, deep down, we all know that factories are prone to accidents; and Map Ta Phut has a lot of factories. Perhaps, the best preventive measure in this case mightn't be drawing up an efficient evacuation plan or buying pricey protective gear or passing tougher public-safety legislation.
Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate is a strange place. Every time I go there I feel an eerie sense of foreboding, which is caused, perhaps, by the sight of so many people being made to live right next door to petrochemical plants. After being there for a short time _ usually less than an hour _ I am always overcome by the conviction that this is no place for families to set up home. You might get a better idea if I tell you that most of those who live in the environs of this sprawling industrial park are woken every morning by the sound of factory machinery.
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