Greenpeace calls for clear and genuine steps to protect Chao Phraya River

Feature story - October 30, 2009
Greenpeace today called on the Thai Government to implement immediate steps to protect Thailand’s iconic Chao Phraya River from toxic pollution. The call came ahead of this year’s Loy Krathong festival which honors the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha, and which is traditionally used as an occasion to promote public awareness on water protection.

Loy Kratong Festival this year, let's express our appreciation and gratitude to river courses and bring back their smiles

"Mae Nam Chao Phraya is the lifeline of Thai civilization. Its continuing degradation is symbolic of the state of water in our country. This Loy Krathong Festival, Greenpeace wishes the government to honor Mae Nam Chao Phraya by taking genuine and serious action to mainstream clean production in the industrial sector, and to implement environment-friendly development policies, a monitoring program on toxics chemical release from factories into the water bodies, and a legislative framework on water protection that aims to eliminate toxics pollution from industrial sources," said Ply Pirom, Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Toxics Campaigner.

Freshwater availability in Thailand is the lowest in Southeast Asia at approximately 6,460 cubic meter annually per capita, of which only 22% of is good in quality . In the face of projected increase in water demand, as well as the anticipated impacts of climate change on water availability, Greenpeace believes that protecting water resources from pollution is crucial to mitigate projected future water crisis.

The Chao Phraya river basin is home to millions of people, many of whom directly rely on the quality of water for their livelihood. Currently, over 5,620 industrial facilities located in the catchment of Chao Phraya discharge more than 304,581 cubic meters of wastewater into the river everyday

Research conducted by Greenpeace's Water Patrol has revealed that toxic, persistent and bio-accumulated chemicals (PBT) are found in most industrial effluents being released in Thailand's rivers. The Water Pollution Risk Area of Thailand report reveals that the industrial pollution is the major contributing factor to pollution of water in the area.

A Greenpeace-ABAC poll commissioned in March last year indicates that 86.5% of urban Thai people consider water pollution a serious environmental problem, while 67.8% think existing water pollution control measures are ineffective and inadequate to address the problem.

"The current water pollution control measures are out-of-date. Instead of penalizing polluters, the government's lack of action actually legalizes water pollution. And despite such public concerns and unsolved persisting problems of water pollution, the government is neglecting to take this as a priority concern and there has been no progress in river protection, "concluded Ply Pirom

As part of its Loy Krathong activities this year, Greenpeace is organizing an educational exhibition in Ancient Siam from November 1 to 2. The exhibit tackles the state of water in Thailand, water pollution problems and how to protect Thailand's rivers, as well as a look at culture and livelihood in the Chao Phraya river basin. The exhibition is open to the public free of charge from 4.00 pm - 10.00 pm at the Suvarnabhumi section of Ancient Siam in Samutprakarn province.