Locals test positive for cadmium
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Locals test positive for cadmium

Factory blamed for hospitalisations

An official climbs onto a large pile of cadmium  waste which was under inspection at a smelting factory in tambon Bang Nam Jued in Samut  Sakhon. (Photo: Greencop)
An official climbs onto a large pile of cadmium waste which was under inspection at a smelting factory in tambon Bang Nam Jued in Samut Sakhon. (Photo: Greencop)

At least 16 people living near a smelting factory in Samut Sakhon have recorded excessive levels of cadmium, the provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Administrative Division said on Friday.

The authority collected urine samples from 34 people living near the factory owned by J & B Metal Co in tambon Bang Nam Jued of Muang district on April 9 and the results came back on Friday. They showed that all of them had cadmium in their bodies and 16 had excessive levels of the chemical, which can damage the lungs and cause other health ailments.

They are now in hospital receiving treatment.

Earlier, 19 workers at the factory were found to have high levels of cadmium, with eight having excessively high levels.

Around a dozen have been discharged, while the others are still receiving treatment at Samut Sakhon Hospital, where they have been since Monday.

The results of water contamination tests showed that the water collected from canals around the factory was still safe to consume, experts said.

Dr Surawait Sakdanupab, a provincial public health doctor in Samut Sakorn, said it was unlikely that local food in the area had been contaminated as the factory in question is located far away from food sources.

People in the capital, in general, are considered safe as high cadmium levels were only found inside LLT Metal Co in Bang Sue district -- not around the facility or in its wastewater, according to the Pollution Control Department (PCD).

Dr Atthaphon Kaewsamrit, deputy director-general of the Department of Health, said that the inspected samples of water used by people around and inside the factory were free of cadmium.

Natthaphon Rangsitphon, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Industry, said on Friday the Pollution Research and Warning Center at the Department of Industrial Works has calculated that the amount of cadmium waste seized so far is close to the 13,832 tonnes of missing waste that was dug out from Bound & Beyond Plc in Tak earlier.

He said the latest figure stands at 12,535 tonnes, adding the search was ongoing.

Regarding transporting the cadmium-contaminated ore back to Tak, the Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) said it has devised a plan to have it buried underground next month.

Some 200 locals from the tambon where Bound & Beyond's pits are located submitted a petition to Poonsak Chanchampee, a list MP of the Move Forward Party, on Thursday, claiming they had not been notified of the plan. Yet the Tak governor insisted the ore must be buried in the province.

One resident said that since most of the group were agriculturists, they were afraid of getting cancer from contaminated soil and water.

Mr Poonsak said seven of the firm's cadmium waste pits had already been closed due to health concerns.

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