Cadmium-sickened villagers awarded B16m compensation
The Supreme Court has upheld previous rulings in ordering two mining companies to pay compensation worth a total of 16 million baht to 114 villagers suffering as a result of cadmium being used in mining activities in Tak province.
The court ruled Tuesday that Padaeng Industry and Tak Mining Company were guilty of causing cadmium contamination in a way that has negatively affected local villagers and polluted Mae Sot district.
The court ordered both companies to pay damages ranging from 30,000 baht to 140,000 baht per plaintive to 144 villagers from a farming community in tambon Phra That Pa Daeng. The compensation must be payed within 30 days and an interest rate of 7.5% will be applied.
Lawyer Phadungsak Teanpiroj said each company must pay around 8 million baht.
The villagers have been trying to sue the mining operators since 2009, claiming that cadmium leaked from their sites polluted their farmland and damaged their health.
Yanapat Praimeesap described their victory as bittersweet.
"Win or lose, we are still living in the same polluted environment. We still have to plant vegetables and rice in that soil, and use water, that is laden with cadmium," he told the Bangkok Post.
Both companies have already stopped their mining operations in the area and completed rehabilitation efforts as required by the law.
But Mr Yanapat said that swaths of land in the community remain contaminated to this day.
He questioned why the government had not dispatched teams to clean up the land, adding the two mining companies have already paid the government 51 million baht in clean-up fees. This payment was also stipulated in the mining concession.
Mr Yanapat said the Pollution Control Department (PCD) has disobeyed a 2013 Administrative Court order directing it to declare the contaminated area an environmental protection zone -- a special status that would prevent any more harmful activity taking place there.
The contaminated land lies in the three tambons of Pra That Pa Daeng, Mae Tao and Mae Ku.
The National Environment Board in 2005 ordered the PCD to review the case after cadmium was founded leaking into the Mae Tao River basin.
In 2017, the PCD confirmed this had come from the mining operations of the two companies.
Some 844 villagers were found to have unusually high concentrations of cadmium in their blood.