Greenpeace spotlights groundwater contamination in Lamphun Province, calls attention to worrying trends of water pollution in Thailand

Feature story - November 13, 2007
Greenpeace put the spotlight on the alarming groundwater contamination in Ban Nong Pet, adjacent to the Northern Region Industrial Estate in Lamphun Province, by hanging a banner with the warning "TOXIC," accompanied by the skull and crossbones insignia, at the town's public water storage tank. The group's volunteers also placed a "DANGER" signpost listing the water's various toxic contaminants at the perimeter fence of the facility, while Ban Nong Pet residents picketed in the area to call on the government to protect the village's groundwater, their only remaining freshwater resource.

Greenpeace put the spotlight on the alarming groundwater contamination in Bang Nong Pet, adjacent to the Northern Region Industrial Estate in Lamphun Province, by hanging a banner with the warning "TOXIC" accompanied by the skull and crossbones insignia, at the village’s public water storage tank.

"Toxic chemicals are seeping into this community's precious groundwater resource. These chemicals not only endanger the quality and sustainability of the community's clean water supply--they also pose health risks to the residents who rely on this freshwater source. This sort of water contamination must not be allowed to continue. The government must safeguard the right to clean water. More effective groundwater protection measures must be instituted and enforced," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics campaigner Ply Pirom.

A recent study conducted by Greenpeace reveals that samples of groundwater taken in Ban Nong Pet earlier this year contained high levels of lead, copper, and zinc which were far above typical background levels. Lead and copper concentrations were found to be four times above, and zinc eight times above, the maximum allowable concentrations as prescribed in the Thai Drinking Water Quality Standards. Lead is extremely toxic to humans, affecting blood, kidneys, as well as the nervous and reproductive systems, and particularly causes intellectual impairment in children. High levels of copper can damage kidneys and the liver, while excessive consumption of zinc impairs the body's ability to absorb certain minerals.

Greenpeace invited representatives of the Pollution Control Department (PCD) to the activity, and, with community leaders, handed the officials bottled samples of the groundwater for analysis. Greenpeace is asking the government agency to conduct a comprehensive investigation of water contamination and disclose the results to the public, and come up with protective measures.

The environmental group is also calling on related governmental agencies under the Ministry of Industry, which has the direct authority to control industrial pollution, to immediately take action on the toxic contamination, asserting that the Ministry has failed to ensure environmental and social sustainability in its promotion of industrial growth.

Chemicals present in the village's groundwater are associated with industrial discharges. Contaminants found in Ban Nong Pet's groundwater are persistent, irreversible, accumulate in the environment, and can readily spread to wider areas--rendering current pollution controls which focus on implementing standards, inadequate. Greenpeace is highlighting this specific case of water contamination to call attention to worrying trends of water pollution throughout Thailand. 

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