New factories 'dodging green rules'

New factories 'dodging green rules'

Locals near plants suffer, forum told

Masses of garbage float on Klong Lat Phrao underneath the Ram Intra expressway. Parts of the canal are filled with rubbish that has been blamed for clogging the city's flood water drainage system in the area. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Masses of garbage float on Klong Lat Phrao underneath the Ram Intra expressway. Parts of the canal are filled with rubbish that has been blamed for clogging the city's flood water drainage system in the area. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Given loopholes in laws, construction of new factories has kicked off before their environmental impact report has been finished which in many cases has caused environmental problems for locals, a seminar was told on Thursday.

Penchom Saetang, director of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (Earth), said work began on building many factories before the Office of the National Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) had finished reviewing the reports.

"Once factory owners go ahead with a project, locals cannot launch investigations [until the EIA report is finished]. As a result, they cannot estimate the effects of new plants on their neighbourhood in the meantime," she told the seminar, held on Thursday to mark World Environmental Day on June 5.

The environmental impact report comprises an Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA), an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and an Environmental Site Assessment.

Ms Penchom said legal loopholes allow factory owners to proceed with their projects.

"No law forbids and punishes them. While Onep is responsible for reviewing the environmental impact report, the local authorities monitor land redevelopment. Both agencies follow different regulations and dodge responsibility for taking legal action against factory owners," she said.

Apart from that, Ms Penchom said the information about the environmental impact is not available to the public. "Locals must approach factories and ask them to disclose information. However, they might say an order has been given for revision or the pollution does not exceed the threshold," she said.

Factories with low capacity are another concern. Ms Penchom said they are not required to undergo an environmental impact report. "The Environment Act waives the environmental impact report for lead-melting plants producing less than 10 tonnes a day. Similarly, the Factory Act bypasses the EIA report for small factories which sort and landfill innocuous waste. However, they leak and pollute water underground water," she said.

Nicha Rakpanichmanee, a graduate student at Vermont Law School, said Thailand lags in environmental regulations. "Japan was the first country to introduce criminal penalties for those who release wastewater or pollute the air. Factories must submit annual reports known as Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry [PRTR]. State agencies must give answers to the public in 30 days," she said. "Thailand, by contrast, has yet to adopt the PRTR," she said.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (23)

Myanmar's economic woes due to gross mismanagement since coup - US official

SINGAPORE: Myanmar's economic turmoil is due to political instability and mismanagement following a February coup, a US official said on Wednesday after a junta minister blamed the crisis partly on foreign backers of its opponents.

18:36

Hong Kong to add estimated 2,000 quarantine hotel rooms ahead of Christmas holidays

HONG KONG: Authorities plan to ramp up the number of designated quarantine hotel rooms in the city by 20% ahead of what is expected to be a busy Christmas holiday season, a key industry player has said.

18:25

S. Korea to employ AI and big data to fight world’s lowest fertility rate

SEOUL: South Korea is employing artificial intelligence (AI) and big data technologies in hopes to boost stubbornly low birth rate in zero range despite decades of colossal spending and slow the thinning in the population.

17:27