Pollution is not a secret

Greenpeace challenges government to reveal water polluters of Thailand

Berita - 18 Februari, 2010
Twenty Greenpeace activists today unfurled a banner saying “Information Disclosure: Pollution is not a secret” at the Department of Industrial Works (DIW) building in Central Bangkok to urge the DIW to proactively tackle chemical contamination of Thailand’s water resources, beginning with the Chao Phraya River. Greenpeace is calling on the Thai government to initiate a legislation that makes it mandatory for industries to disclose all information on usage, release and transfer of hazardous chemicals as a first step to the eventual elimination of toxic chemicals from all industrial production.

Twenty Greenpeace activists today unfurled a banner saying "Information Disclosure: Pollution is not a secret" at the Department of Industrial Works (DIW) building in Central Bangkok to urge the DIW to proactively tackle chemical contamination of Thailand's water resources, beginning with the Chao Phraya River. The activists also delivered two two-liter bottles of potentially toxic water samples taken from Somrong and Bangnakreng canals of Chao Phraya, site of hundreds of dirty and polluting factories, to the office of DIW.

The activists also delivered two two-liter bottles of potentially toxic water samples taken from Somrong and Bangnakreng canals of Chao Phraya, site of hundreds of dirty and polluting factories, to the office of DIW.

"Our rivers, especially Chao Phraya, have been treated as convenient channels for the release of deadly chemical waste streams by factories for more than two decades now. This has resulted in unprecedented accumulation of toxics in water, sediments and possibly in aquatic animals, threatening both the health of Thai people and the environment like never before. Unfortunately, we are all living in the dark-there is very limited information about the extent of pollution or the kinds of toxic chemicals that are spreading like cancer across eco-systems," said Ply Pirom, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner.

"We challenge the Department of Industrial Works to take genuine and serious action to stop water pollution by industries. We are calling on Director Prapat Vanapitaksa to take the lead in mainstreaming clean production in the industrial sector starting with phasing out toxic chemicals, and legislating PRTR or the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register, to defend the public's right to know about what's in their water," added Pirom.

Factories in Thailand annually produce and import more than 30.4 million tons of chemicals, of which more than 800,000 tons are carcinogenic. A significant amount of these chemicals end up in rivers. Previous Greenpeace researches reveal that many industrial discharges often contain hazardous chemicals which are persistent, bio-accumulated and toxic. The problem arises from poor environmental protection control, dirty industrial production using hazardous chemicals and dirty tricks practiced by many factories.

To date, no laws or regulations give Thai citizens the right to know about hazardous chemicals use, transfer and release to the environment, thus there is no information available on the types and amounts of toxic chemicals which are released into water bodies. Although several laws require factories to submit a list of hazardous substances they use and the level of pollutants they emit to the Ministry of Industry, this information is not made accessible to the public.

"Information disclosure is yet a norm in Thailand; many Thai citizens tend to overlook the importance of information disclosure and the seriousness of toxic pollution problems.  Even worse, the information that has been submitted to the DIW is often labeled 'industry trade secret' and kept away from public eye. A pollutant registry system such as the PRTR will significantly reduce toxic pollution and promote public participation in environmental management," concluded Pirom.

During the months of February to March this year, Greenpeace Water Patrol will start investigating the state of water quality of Chao Phraya, focusing on the persistent, bio-accumulated and toxic chemicals present in water flow and sediments. The study areas are canals in Samutprakan province which dirty factories treat as dumping grounds.

More information about PRTR http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/th/water-patrol/reports/pollutant-release-and-transfer-register

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