Toxic Hotspot

Waters off Map Tha Phut Industrial Estate contain heavy metals and hazardous chemicals.

Feature story - August 4, 2003
Environmental group Greenpeace today marked the seawaters off Map Tha Phut Industrial Estate as one of the most polluted in Thailand. Greenpeace volunteers planted a sign declaring "Toxic Hotspot" at the outflow of the industrial estate in scenic Had Sai Thong beach, the long-time recipient of chemicals and toxic waste flowing out of large industrial operations in the area.

"This canal from the industrial estate has discharged plenty of highly toxic chemicals endangering the environment and the well-being of villagers in Map Tha Phut area. Investors and the government must show responsibility by letting the villagers know what is being dumped into the seawater where people swim and catch fish, crabs and shells," said Tara Buakamsri, Toxic Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Research conducted by government agencies have indicated that the seawater and sediment around Map Ta Phut have been contaminated by heavy metals like mercury (1). These information, according to Greenpeace, has been around for a number of years but were inaccessible to the general public. Ironically, Map Tha Phut Industrial Estate is under a five-year pilot project for Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) under the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Pollution Control Department, which should have made all information about toxic chemical use and dumping readily available to the public.

"The government must enforce a mandatory TRI otherwise the Gulf of Thailand and communities that depend on it for food and livelihood will be seriously at risk. The public must also be empowered with their right to know," said Tara.

Greenpeace is concluding its five-day caravan along the coastal communities of the eastern seaboard to gather support for its "Save the Gulf of Thailand - Our Food Basket" project (2). The group aims at protecting the gulf from toxic pollution and is mobilizing the public to ask the government to enforce mandatory TRIs to all industrial activities around the gulf where plenty774930 of factories are operating. Greenpeace's caravan of colorful vans and bikers visited Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong during the tour.

For more information contact Tara Buakamsri, Tel: 01 8550013 or Arthur Jones Dionio, Tel: 01 925 4835. Photo and video clips of the tour available upon request. Visit www.sainam.org for more information.

NOTE TO EDITORS:

(1) One report is by the Pollution Control Department in 1999, entitled: Final Report of Project for Surveying and Information Collection on Pollution Sources and Recovery Plan for Water Quality in the Coastal Area along the Gulf of Thailand, Heavy Metal and Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the Industrial Area and "Are Thai Water Really Contaminated With Mercury" (no mentioned date).

(2) Greenpeace published a new ecological map of the Gulf of Thailand for distribution to the general public.

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