Cadmium disaster zone declared

Cadmium disaster zone declared

15,000 tonnes of mishandled cadmium waste transported illegally from Tak found in Samut Sakhon

Officials inspect big bags of mishandled cadmium waste at a foundry in Muang district of Samut Sakhon on Thursday. (Photo supplied)
Officials inspect big bags of mishandled cadmium waste at a foundry in Muang district of Samut Sakhon on Thursday. (Photo supplied)

SAMUT SAKHON: The governor of Samut Sakhon province has declared two foundries in Muang district disaster zones after finding 15,000 tonnes of carcinogenic cadmium waste illegally acquired from Tak province.

Phol Damtham issued the order on Thursday after inspecting two foundries operated by a company on Soi Kong Phananphon off Ekachai Road in tambon Bang Nam Jued. Officials found about 1,600 large bags of cadmium and zinc waste there.

The governor said the foundries had about 15,000 tonnes of cadmium waste acquired from Tak province, and that about 100 of the bags were placed outdoors.

The facilities will be cordoned off for 90 days. The governor also prohibited the waste being melted and ordered all of it returned within seven days to the landfill in Tak where it originated.

Pending transport, all of the bags of cadmium waste will be kept indoors at one foundry.

The governor said industrial authorities in Tak should answer how the waste was allowed to be transported to Samut Sakhon.

Phutthikorn Wichaidit, the industrial chief of Samut Sakhon, said operator of the foundries was licensed only to store and grind industrial waste and melt aluminium. It was not allowed to melt cadmium waste.

The company stored the hazardous substance without permission and was suspected of having melted cadmium without authorisation. Its executives could be liable to both imprisonment and fines, he said. The name of the company was withheld.

Cadmium has many uses, notably in the production of rechargeable batteries, pigments, metal coatings and plastics. Cadmium and its compounds are highly toxic and can cause damage to human tissues and organs when they enter the food chain. Because of this risk, its disposal is tightly regulated.

Although the cadmium waste had been neutralised before being moved to its landfill in Tak, its transport from the landfill for melting was totally illegal, Mr Phutthikorn said.

Officials had yet to find out if any of the cadmium waste had been released from the foundries or had been melted, he said.

A representative of the company said the transport of the cadmium waste to Samut Sakhon started in August last year and took about three months.

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