Factory under gun over stingray deaths

Factory under gun over stingray deaths

The Industry Ministry is preparing to press charges against an ethanol-producing factory in Ratchaburi after lab test findings showed its wastewater discharge exceeds safety limits and could be linked to a large number of stingray deaths.

Nisakorn Jungjaroentham, deputy permanent secretary for industry, said the results show the values of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) from the factory exceed safety standards.

She said a letter has been sent to the factory, located in Ban Pong district, to inform management it has violated the laws and will face legal action. The factory has been told to fix the problem.

The move follows a sudden spike in deaths of stingrays in Samut Songkhram. According to the provincial fisheries office, a total of 45 stingrays were found dead from Sept 29-Oct 10.

Earlier, the ethanol plant in Ratchaburi admitted one of its wastewater pipes broke on Sept 29, leading to wastewater discharges into the Mae Klong River. The factory's management also said the leak was accidental, it was in the process of fixing it and was taking steps to prevent a recurrence.

Officials in Ratchaburi were sent to inspect discharges at four target factories between Oct 11-13 and will inspect 15 smaller factories along the Mae Klong River today. The results of lab tests are expected in 10-12 days.

Officials in Samut Songkhram also collected samples of wastewater discharge from eight factories with initial results showing no traces of toxic chemicals. However, a more detailed water test is expected on Monday and any factory found to have violated the law will face legal action.

Meanwhile, the governor of Samut Songkhram, Khanchat Tansathien, yesterday led a group of 1,000 residents to clean up Don Hoi Lot, a local source of razor clams which were also found dead.

Mr Khanchat said the situation was improving and it should return to normal in a couple of months.

He said that provincial authorities are still waiting for an official result concerning the cause of death of the stingrays, adding the findings are expected this week.

According to the governor, an initial finding that the internal organs of the dead fish were destroyed indicates toxic contamination of the water.

Earlier, Nantarika Chansue, a vet from Chulalongkorn University who disclosed the surge in deaths of the rare species of stingrays on her Facebook page, said testing showed the cause of the deaths was not natural.

Citing findings by the Animal Health Institute, she said it found toxic contamination in the livers and kidneys of some of the dead stingrays and toxins were found at 20 times the normal level.

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