Greenpeace calls for urgent action to protect Chao Phraya river; launches 350 km long canoe tour

Press release - May 22, 2009
Greenpeace today called upon the government of Thailand to take immediate action to curb pollution of fresh water sources at the launch of its “Toxic Free Chao Phraya” river tour in Nakonsawan, Paknampo. Greenpeace is calling upon the government to identify, prosecute and shut down factories discharging toxic effluents and illegal waste dumpsites on the Chao Phraya river.

Greenpeace volunteers in inflatable canoes begins its 350 KM long river-journey that will document and highlight the state of Chao Praya, the most iconic river of Thailand. Greenpeace is calling upon the government of Thailand to take immediate action to curb pollution of fresh water sources at the launch of its “Toxic-Free Chao Phraya” river tour in Nakhonsawan, Paknampo. The Toxic-Free Chao Praya river journey aims 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.

Four Greenpeace activists in inflatable canoes, were flagged off by Mr. Suphakit Boonyarithiphong, Governor of Nakhonsawan , for a unique 350 km long river-journey that will document and highlight the state of Chao Phraya, the most iconic river of Thailand. Hundreds of citizens of Nakhonsawan also participated in the send-off ceremony today. A flotilla of local boats accompanied the Greenpeace canoes at the flag-off ceremony. The Toxic Free Chao Praya river journey aims 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.

"The Chao Phraya river, is the foundation of Thailand's economy and political system and also a window to its history, culture and people. Unfortunately, due to negligence, unchecked pollution and population pressures the river is decaying faster than ever. The people of Thailand cannot afford to ignore the dual threat to our Mae nam, climate change threatens severe scarcity even as we continue to pollute our remaining water sources. It is imperative that immediate action is taken to stop further degradation of Chao Phraya river. " said Ply Pirom, Toxic Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

In March 2009, 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.

Governor of Nakhonsawan, Mr. Suphakit Boonyarithiphong flagged off the Greenpeace river jouney at a ceremony with famous colourful dragon flotilla of the area escorted by the local communities. Hundreds of local citizens participated in the event and wrote messages that will be shared with communities downstream of the river. Along the route, the crew of the tour will highlight different sources of pollution and hold workshops and exhibitions for capacity building and awareness raising amongst the communities.

Greenpeace demands:

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

2. Launch a multi-stake holder program to clean up the Chao Phraya river

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

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

VVPR info: Ply Pirom, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Tel: 081-658-9432 Wiriya Kingwatcharapong, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Tel: 089- 487-0678

Notes: (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) Toxic- Free- Water Campaign, Water Journey and Updates photos available athttp://waterpatrol.greenpeace.org

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