Ministry tells Ming Dih Co to relocate
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Ministry tells Ming Dih Co to relocate

Company to retain investor privileges

The Ming Dih factory in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan after a blast followed by an inferno on Monday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
The Ming Dih factory in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan after a blast followed by an inferno on Monday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The Industry Ministry has told Ming Dih Chemical to relocate its operation to an industrial estate if it wants to continue operating in the kingdom following the fire on Monday that affected at least 80,000 residents in Samut Prakan.

Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said the Department of Industrial Works has ordered the company to close down its factory, located among communities in King Kaew 21 at Moo 15 village in tambon Rachathewa, in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan.

This follows an explosion on Monday that killed one rescue worker and injured 39 others.

The blast also caused the evacuation of people living in the area. There were concerns that chemical fumes might affect the residents.

"If the company wants to resume operations, it will [have to relocate] to an industrial estate and follow the industrial rules," Mr Suriya said.

Although the company has been banned from the area, it will retain its Board of Investment privileges, the minister said.

Regarding the air quality in the area in the aftermath of the explosion, Mr Suriya said officials analysed 14 spots within an 8-kilometre radius of the fire and found they contained 0.42–0.83 part per million (ppm) of styrene monomer, which is considered safe as it is still under 20ppm.

No hazardous substance has been found in the two canals near the factory but locals were told to avoid drinking the water, he said.

Varawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, on Thursday said air quality around the factory is safe but inside, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) were detected at high but harmless levels.

The Pollution Control Department has inspected nearby water sources, including the canals and two water outlets, for signs of hazardous chemical contamination.

Mr Varawut said oxygen, styrene, VOCs, oil and fat levels were all checked.

The initial inspection showed the canals had sufficient oxygen while the water outlets had substandard water quality due to general pollution, he said.

Indexes of styrene, VOCs, oil and fat will be reported today and the Royal Irrigation Department will be in charge of closing water gates to block the factory's water drainage system, Mr Varawut said.

Rescue workers worked for two days to control the fire following the blast and subsequent inferno at the factory.

Kornsith Laophan, 19, a firefighter, was killed as he and other volunteers fled from a burning chemical storage site.

He stumbled and was taken by the fire, authorities said.

Helicopters, including several owned by the army, were called in to help firefighters spray fire retardant foam over the burning complex.

At least 80,000 people have been affected by the massive fire that ravaged the Ming Dih Chemical Co factory complex.

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