An executive of 304 Industrial Park in tambon Tha Tum of Prachin Buri's Si Maha Phot district has dismissed a non-governmental organisation's report claiming high levels of mercury contamination in fish and in the hair of residents living along the area's Shalongwaeng Canal.
The industrial park houses several coal-fired power plants and pulp and paper mills. Tambon Tha Tum is one of 29 mercury hot spots around the world.
Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (Earth) on Wednesday released a report stating high levels of mercury were found in hair collected from residents living in tambon Tha Tum and in samples of fish in Shalongwaeng Canal, which is connected to the industrial site. The survey was conducted last year under a grant from the Swedish and Swiss governments.
The NGO found the level of mercury in fish was 0.34 parts per million (ppm), which is well above the food safety standard declared by the Public Health Ministry of 0.02ppm. In people's hair, a US laboratory found the level of mercury was 4.6ppm. Researchers said the reference level was 1.00ppm.
Poolsak Sutanthavibul, executive vice-president of 304 Industrial Park, said in a statement that the park's own laboratory tests came up free of heavy metal.
Mr Poolsak said the industrial park has worked with SGS Company, a global independent service for industrial inspection, analysing the mercury level in treated water at the industrial park.
Results showed that the mercury level in the estate is less than 0.0005ppm, while discharged water had never exceeded the standard declared by the Industrial Works Department since the park started operating in 2002, he said.
Moreover, the company also collected water samples from Shalongwaeng Canal in June last year and found a level of mercury at 0.0001ppm. No mercury was detected last month.
"We have never discharged treated water into public water sources, but reused it for our energy crop plantation. As the facts show, we have nothing to do with mercury-contaminated water in the canal," Mr Poolsak said.
"However, the discovery of a high level of mercury in the environment puts responsibility on the state to find the cause _ with our full cooperation on information sharing and dealing with the communal problem."
Mr Poolsak said on Jan 10, SGS collected five water samples from Rung Canal, Nong Khla Canal, Shalongwaeng Canal and a treated water pond.
None of the samples contained mercury, he said.
Wichien Jungrungruang, chief of the Pollution Control Department, said he had assigned staff to collect samples of water and fish in communities located close to the industrial site.
Mr Wichien said lab results were expected in two weeks.
He said the department would increase inspections for heavy metal contamination in water sources near the industrial site.
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- Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin