Greenpeace joins local communities in protest vs. Dirty Waste Project

Denounces the ADB bankrolled project as an "environmental crime"

Press release - June 26, 2001
In a feisty fluvial demonstration involving 100 fishing boats, Greenpeace activists from nine countries today joined local communities in Samut Prakarn province in protest against the construction of a controversial Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded waste water treatment project which threatens to destroy both the marine environment and livelihoods of people in Klong Dan district, Samut Prakarn province.

In a feisty fluvial demonstration involving 100 fishing boats, Greenpeace activists from nine countries today joined local communities in Samut Prakarn province in protest against the construction of a controversial Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded waste water treatment project which threatens to destroy both the marine environment and livelihoods of people in Klong Dan district, Samut Prakarn province.

To dramatize the anticipated toxic pollution that the Samut Prakarn Wastewater Management Project (SPWWMP) will bring to the area, the activists declared the site of the project's outfall pipe as an "environmental crime scene", stressing that unless the Thai government and the ADB move to stop the construction of the project, the marine environment for which the people of Klong Dan rely for their livelihood and survival will be laid waste.

"We stand in solidarity with the local community in their continuing defiance against this dirty and dangerous project. This monstrous project represents a grave environmental injustice being foisted by the Thai government and the ADB on the people of Klong Dan. It will not only spoil the environment, it will also destroy people's lives," said Tara Buakamsri, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Working hand in hand with local fisherfolk, Greenpeace activists from Thailand, Philippines, Netherlands, United Kingdom, China, Turkey, Brazil, Australia and India, fenced the construction area of the waste project with bamboo sticks and flags bearing the message "Stop 'SPWWMP' at Klong Dan" and "Stop End-of-Pipe Solutions". The messages in flags were written in English, Thai and over 12 other languages. The activists then encircled the platform currently being used as construction base for the outfall pipe with yellow hazard tape and a huge banner that read: "Environmental Crime Scene".

Recently, the ADB Independent Review Team for the project proposed the expansion of the economic exclusive zone around the marine outfall from 500 meters to 1,000 meters. Greenpeace considers this as an admission on the part of the proponents of the huge environmental impacts associated with the discharge of industrial poisons coming from diverse sources. The environmental group also expressed serious doubts about claims made by project proponents that the SPWWMP would be able to address both domestic and industrial wastewater discharges in an effective manner, citing the negative experiences with similar projects in other countries like India and Australia.

"This project is constantly being compared with the Werribee project in Australia. The big problem with Werribee was that it was not suitable for the disposal of persistent toxic chemicals. The dumping of dioxins by industry in fact led to the build up of these substances in the milk from local cattle. This project could easily run into problems of a similar if not more acute nature," according to scientist Ruth Stringer of Exeter Laboratory.

"Other attempts to treat domestic and industrial waste together in sewage treatment plants in India and the UK have failed and have only resulted in high toxics contamination. A plant accepting industrial waste will always produce contaminated sludge which cannot be used as a resource. Incineration of sewage sludge is not a solution as incineration does not get rid of the contaminants but simply redistributes them in the form of air pollution and ash," added Stringer.

"If the ADB and the Thai government are really serious about solving the pollution problem, they should invest heavily in real solutions that will encourage and assist industrial polluters to make the shift from dirty to clean production. Dumping toxic waste in a rich fishing area does not come across as a sensible solution. This project has the word disaster written all over it," Buakamsri said.

Categories
Tags