Groups petition against new government’s coal plant advocacy

Press release - November 15, 2006
People Against Coal (PAC), a network of affected communities, civil society groups and environmental organizations in Thailand today called on the Thai government to stop the expansion of coal fired power plants and instead switch to clean renewable energy. PAC submitted a petition letter to the Energy Ministry, which once again advocated a Power Development Plan that heavily relies on centralized fossil fuel power plants – majority of which is coal-- for the next 10 years.

"We have been living in the shadow of dirty smokestacks for several decades and we have suffered dreadful health problems from exposure to dirty coal plants. Whether it is the people of Mae Moh or Map Ta Phut with or without the so called clean coal, the effects are the same, our lungs, eyes, nose, throats are straining under the toxic burden." said Maliwan Nakwirot - representative of People Against Coal Network.

A recent study by the Health System Research Institute indicated that Power Development Plan-coal or PDP-coal will result in the most severe health impacts among local population. The study projected that between 2003-2015, chronic bronchitis in children is set to increase from 7,500 cases to 20,000. Total chronic mortality rate will increase from 800 to 2,250.  Total hospital admission for acute cases will increase from 260 to 680. And finally total acute mortality cases will increase from 70 to 250. (1)

In the new draft Power Development Plan, coal will account for 40% of the electricity production from the year 2011-2015 with total additional electricity production of 10,570 MW. That means the construction of four more new coal plants (about 4,000 MW) is going to be proposed. The Ministry of Energy is also calling for the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) bidding process to start in the first quarter of 2007 and the1,430 MW BLCP coal plant in Map Ta Phut will be one of the most possible candidates for its future expansion through IPP bidding process.

Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, where BLCP coal plant is located, already has more than 200 smokestacks, which release pollutants to 25 communities living around the estate. Thai government reports on health impacts in Map Ta Phut area have revealed that groups of diseases related to the respiratory system, nervous system, reproductive system, muscle system and mental disorder have become much more alarming than other parts of the country.

"It doesn't have to be this way," said Tara Buakamsri, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "Our recent study clearly indicates that there is no need for the further use of coal which causes social, health and environmental problems. By simply accomplishing the government's target for renewable energy use, the country will be able to continue its economic development, reduce dependence from outside sources, increase employment, create a stable society and significant contribution to the global fight against climate change."(2)

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions, which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Maliwan Nakwirot, People Against Coal (PAC), +669 4299694

Notes: 1. Ph.D. Dissertation of Decharut Sukkumnoed of Health System Research Institute. 2. Greenpeace report “Decentralizing Thai Power : Towards a Sustainable Energy System” can be download at www.greenpeace.or.th