By VISARUT SANKHAM
ENVIRONMENTALISTS VOICE CONCERN OVER RELEASE OF DIOXINS, OTHER CARCINOGENS
REPRESENTATIVES of people from seven provinces yesterday filed a complaint with the Central Administrative Court in Bangkok calling on the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to revoke its announcement waiving environment impact assessments (EIA) for waste-fired power plants.
Members of the Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH) led some 100 villagers from the provinces of Pathum Thani, Chon Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao and Saraburi to file the complaint. These seven provinces have the potential to become sites of the power plants.
The announcement, which went into effect in early September, changes the requirement for a power plant with a capacity of more than 10 megawatts to come up with an EIA report, and instead calls on power plants of all sizes to observe the code of practice.
EARTH director Penchom Saetang said she had assigned a lawyer from the Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants (EnLAW) to file lawsuits against relevant agencies, including the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the National Environmental Board, as they played a key role behind this announcement.
The group wants the announcement and the code of practice designed by the National Environmental Board to be revoked. Penchom said the decision to waive EIA reports went against the law and missed its objective of protecting the environment. It also eradicated the community-environment-protection process and community participation in such plant projects, she said.
“I’m concerned about dioxins, a carcinogen that will be released from the waste-fired power plants during the burning of mixed waste. I’m also worried about the location of the plants, as some might just use any land plot with no regard to whether it is too close to communities,” she said.
She pointed out that Thailand had more than 2,000 garbage dumps, which should be enough to handle the problem of waste provided suitable methods like waste separation were in place.
Too close for comfort
Bunson Aumlapun, a villager from tambon Chiang Rak Yai of Pathum Thani’s Sam Khok district, told The Nation that a waste-fired power plant would be located just 1 kilometre from her home.
As there are three canals – Klong Sai, Klong Num Aom and Klong Ban Phrao – around the plant, she is concerned that toxins from the plant could leak into the water, resulting in serious damage.
She also mentioned a nearby water-pumping station, which could be affected by the power plant.
“I’m not against the waste-fired power-plant project, but I need it to be located somewhere else so it won’t harm people or affect their livelihoods. Having it just 1 kilometre from people’s homes is clearly not suitable,” she said.