Air quality around fire-gutted factory being checked

Air quality around fire-gutted factory being checked

A helicopter flies through billowing black smoke and dumps water on the burning Ming Dih Chemical Co factory in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan, on Monday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
A helicopter flies through billowing black smoke and dumps water on the burning Ming Dih Chemical Co factory in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan, on Monday. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Department of Pollution Control is checking the air quality, as well as drains and sewers, within a five-kilometre radius of the burned-out Ming Dih Chemical Co factory in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli district, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said on Tuesday.

He said the air might still be polluted by fumes from the chemical fire and smoke, and the drains and sewers contaminated by run-off water and flame retardents sprayed on the flames. 

Mobile units were checking the air quality and samples from the drains. 

Mr Varawut expected the results later on Tuesday and said they would be made public. 

Asked whether the factory had conducted an environmental impact assessment study before it was opened, Mr Varawut said it was built more than 30 years ago when there was no law requiring an EIA.

Mr Varawut said he would check with the Ministry of Interior to find out why the factory was surrounded by residential communities. It should be in an area designated for commercial purposes.

The master town and country plan must be checked to find out which was there first, the factory or residential communities, he said.

Asked why Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, his deputies and other important figures in the government did not show up at the scene of such a major fire, Mr Varawut said he believed the prime minister did not want to disrupt local officials' concentration on their work.

PM's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai said he had instructed the National Office of Buddhism to examine whether any temples in the area had been affected by the fire.

Seksakol Atthawong, vice minister attached to the PM's Office, said Gen Prayut was concerned about the fire. One volunteer firefighter had died fighting the blaze and many were injured.

Gen Prayut had offered condolences to the family of the dead firefghter, Kornsit Laophan, and was full of praise for all the people who had worked hard in the disaster relief operation.

The prime minister had instructed the ministries of Interior, Labour, Industry and Social Development and Human Security to look after the people affected by the fire and provide them with temporary shelter, food and proper compensation, he said.

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