Protect Chao Phraya Now, Before it's too Late: Greenpeace

Feature story - May 29, 2009
Greenpeace activists held a banner proclaiming “Protect Chao Phraya Now!” on canoes in Chao Phraya River in front of Wat Arun today to conclude its “Toxic free Chao Phraya’ river tour. Four Greenpeace activists began the unique river journey in inflatable canoes from Nakhonsawan on 22 May 2009, to raise awareness on the issue of unprecedented pollution of Chao Praya River by relentless dumping of industrial effluents and domestic waste into the river.

Greenpeace activists held a banner proclaiming “Protect Chao Phraya Now!” on canoes in Chao Phraya River in front of Wat Arun today to conclude its “Toxic free Chao Phraya river tour. Four Greenpeace activists began the unique river journey in inflatable canoes from Nakhonsawan on 22 May 2009, to raise awareness on the issue of unprecedented pollution of Chao Praya River by relentless dumping of industrial effluents and domestic waste into the river.

The Toxic Free Chao Phraya river tour aimed to inspire all stakeholders on the river – government and industry, polluters and impacted communities to catalyse a collective effort to find solutions to save the Chao Phraya River.

Greenpeace activists held a banner proclaiming “Protect Chao Phraya Now!” on canoes in Chao Phraya River in front of Wat Arun today to conclude its “Toxic free Chao Phraya river tour. Four Greenpeace activists began the unique river journey in inflatable canoes from Nakhonsawan on 22 May 2009, to raise awareness on the issue of unprecedented pollution of Chao Praya River by relentless dumping of industrial effluents and domestic waste into the river.

The Toxic Free Chao Phraya river tour aimed to inspire all stakeholders on the river – government and industry, polluters and impacted communities to catalyse a collective effort to find solutions to save the Chao Phraya River.

"Chao Phraya, is being used as a convenient dumping ground by individuals and industries alike, besides the organic pollutants from domestic sewage, toxic chemicals from industrial effluents pose the greatest threat to life in and along the river." Said Ply Pirom, Greenpeace campaigner, " Mae Nam is the lifeline of our nation but if immediate action is not taken to stop its pollution, the people of Thailand will be responsible for its slow and painful death."

The Toxic Free Chao Phraya river tour aimed to inspire all stakeholders on the river - government and industry, polluters and impacted communities to catalyse a collective effort to find solutions to save the Chao Phraya River.

During the river tour, Greenpeace observed and confirmed the information from Pollution Control Department that the quality of Chao Phraya river worsens as it flows downstream, from normal quality (DO > 6 mg/l) in the upper reaches, in Nakhonsawan,  that deteriorates as it enters lower reaches(DO > 2 mg/l) after Ayuthaya. The colour of the water gets darker, there is increased turbidity and more visible waste, intensive direct discharge points that literally blacken the water and obviously more instances of dead fish.     

In Chao Phraya basin, there are approximately 1,720 factories that discharge effluents (not including 5 electricity power generation plant), accounting for over 346,425.8 cubic meter of wastewater discharge per day, predominantly from factories in Samutphrakan, Bangkok, Patumthani, and Ayuthaya respectively. In Bangkok, there are approximately major 1,122 factories that release 76,082.1 cubic meter of effluents per day, into the river (The Industrial Environmental Institute, 2007). Many of these factories are sources of toxics chemicals that are used in their dirty productions.

In March, Greenpeace released a shocking report "Water pollution risk areas of Thailand" which reveals that 92.68 percent of the total area in Thailand is at risk from water pollution. Within these risk areas, 6.87 percent is classified as 'high risk' and could impact approximately 4,440,049 Thai citizens if corrective action is not taken immediately. (1)

"The current pollution control measures have clearly failed to protect our water resources as was obvious during our river tour. We are calling upon the government to take immediate action and address our demands for the sake of our environment, health of our people and the pride of our nation, Mae Nam Chao Phraya, before it is too late" concluded Ply Pirom.

Greenpeace demands:

- Identify, prosecute and shut down all industries dumping hazardous chemical effluents in Chao Phraya River

- Launch a multi-stake holder program to clean up the Chao Phraya River

- Shut down all garbage and domestic waste dump sites on the banks of Chao Phraya River

- Give financial incentives for chemical-free agricultural practices and clean production technologies.

(1) Full report of Water Pollution Risk Area in Thailand is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/th/press/reports/water-pollution-risk-areas-thailand Summary report is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/th/press/reports/water-pollution-risk-areas-thailand-briefing (2) Water Journey and Updates photos available at http://waterpatrol.greenpeace.or.th

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