10,000-strong ‘human chain’ calls on Thai government to quit coal

Greenpeace stands in solidarity with pro-renewable energy communities in Nakhon si Thammarat

Press release - February 24, 2011
Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand — Greenpeace today called on the Government of Thailand to make a clean energy future a reality for Thai communities by abandoning plans to build more coal fired power plants and prioritizing solutions such as renewable energy.

The call came as the environment group stood in solidarity with 10,000 people from Tha Sala district, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province who formed a human chain as a symbol that they will protect their home from coal plants slated to be built by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).  Local communities together with key local government officials announced their call to action for EGAT to immediately withdraw its coal project due to serious economic, social and environmental impacts to host communities.
 
“Greenpeace is here supporting community movements who oppose dirty energy sources such as coal.  Coal is never clean.  From mining, through combustion to waste disposal, coal has dire impacts on the environment, human health and the social fabric of communities living near the mine, plants and waste sites.  Burning coal also accelerates climate change which will affect the whole country,” said Chariya Senpong, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “To avoid the disastrous consequences of a coal-powered future the government must embrace an energy revolution – a massive uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.  This is what the communities in Nakhon Si Thammarat and across Thailand are demanding and what the Thai government should instead deliver.”
 
Based on Thailand’s Power Development Plan 2010, at least nine coal-fired power plants totaling 8,400 MW in capacity are being proposed in Thailand. Two districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat province have been identified for coal projects under the Southern Seaboard Development Program of National Economic and Social Board (NESB).  

Coal currently accounts for one fifth of Thailand’s energy mix, comprising 12% lignite and 9% imported coal.  The proposed plan intends to drastically increase the share of imported coal to 21 % by 2030.
 
Coal plants in Thailand are notorious polluters.  Mae Moh in Lampang province is considered to be the worst of its kind in Asia, causing sickness and disease as well as lost livelihoods.  BLCP and GHECO-I, both in Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong province are no different.  A 2005 study by Greenpeace revealed that fly ash from BLCP is contaminated with a range of toxic and potentially toxic elements such as mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic and nickel, raising the possibility of widespread toxic contamination in the vicinity.  Recently, GHECO-I coal plant has been included in the list of harmful  industries list requiring mandatory environmental and health impact assessment.  Greenpeace asserts that there is no such thing as “clean” coal technology.
 
“Thailand's development direction should consider community welfare.  The government’s coal plan is not the right answer of Thailand’s energy security. Today, Tha Sala people are rising up and saying ‘no to coal’ as part of an ever expanding nationwide anti-coal movement in Thailand.  Communities will continue to reject coal and  demand renewable energy and energy decentralization in our community,” said Songwut Patkaew, community leader of Nakhon Si Thammarat.
 
During their flagship’s Rainbow Warrior Tour of Southeast Asia last year, Greenpeace also supported community movements in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The environment groups is campaigning for an ‘Energy [R]evolution,’ a sustainable pathway to phase out dirty and dangerous fuels by transitioning to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace.
 
 Contact:
 Chariya Senpong, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Tel : 086-982-8572
 Wiriya Kingwatcharapong, Media Campaigner, Tel: 089-487-0678