Anti-coal communities in Thailand’s deep south say no to coal

Press release - September 14, 2017
Bangkok, Thailand - The “Teluk Patani” network, Permatamas, and Greenpeace Southeast Asia have raised concerns over the Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) of the proposed coal-fired power plant at Thepa. The groups say the project overlooks the importance of rich ecosystems, so-called “Teluk Patani”(in Malay dialect), which are vital to the culture and livelihood of the people in Songkhla and Pattani provinces.

In a public forum, entitled “Energy, Environment, and Peace: Truth to Power”, the groups urged the government to cancel the 2,200 megawatt Thepa coal project. A map of “Teluk Patani” ecosystem [1] was presented illustrating  information from field survey by communities  on the natural resources in the surrounding area of Pattani Gulf-- from Thepa district to Tachi cape-- likely to be affected by coal project.

Describing the environmental integrity in Thepa district, Direk Hemnakorn of the Teluk Patani network said:

“Thepa, a town by an estuary, has had a long and significant history. It is abundant with natural resources that make up ecosystems of forests, mountains, paddy fields, and seas which are beautifully interconnected and alive to this day. Contrary to the definition that many have created for it, Thepa is not a stand alone town, but rather a town surrounded by many others, big and small, whether Songkhla, Chana, Nattawee, Saba Yoi, Khok Pho, Yala, Yarang, Nong Jik, or Patani.”

“If Thepa is damaged, other  nearby towns may be seriously affected as well. Also known as the 'Teluk Patani’, the sea of Thepa in Pattani Gulf is home to hundreds of communities and tens of thousands of fishermen who rely on it for a living. For the Thai society, it is considered an epicenter of cultural diversity. We will not allow the coal plant to destroy one of the country’s most vital food sources.”

According to  the Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) of the Thepa coal-fired power plant project,   there will be coal shipments of over 21,000 tons each day, or approximately 8 million tons every year from Indonesia, Australia, and South Africa. The proposed coal plant at Thepa will emit more than 12 million tons of carbon dioxide annually while producing fly ash, a contaminant of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic, by more than 1,200 tons each day.[2]

Atmospheric modeling conducted by the Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group of Harvard University using a global 3D chemistry transport model (GEOS-Chem), has estimated that particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers or PM2.5 produced by the Thepa coal-fired power station would be projected to cause approximately 4,400 premature deaths over an operating life  span of 40 years.

The most significant health impacts occur to the west of the proposed power plant site, as the pollution gets blown across the entire peninsula. The emissions also affect air quality in northern Sumatra and northern peninsular Malaysia, causing significant cross-border health impacts.[3].

After the approval of the expert panel of the Office of Natural Resource and the Environmental Policy and Planning , amidst strong opposition from communities, civil society and independent academic groups, the EHIA of the Thepa coal-fired power station is currently with  the Office of National Environment Board to be later approved by the Cabinet.

Chariya Senpong, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said:

“Once again, we see how energy policy makers have prioritized profits of the coal industry over people and the environment. The decision to build a coal plant will prevent  energy justice, environmental protection and peace. There is no place for coal in Thailand as it undermines the goals set under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gases emission in order to keep the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. . We must shift to renewable energy now to ensure  sustainable economic development, environmental protection, and just society.”

In the public forum “Energy, Environment, and Peace: Truth to Power”, the groups are calling the government to  revoke and remove  all new coal plants  from the Power Development Plan 2015-2036 (PDP2015). Furthermore, a revision process for PDP2015 that is hosted by the Ministry of Energy and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) [4] has to take into account the framework for improving accountability and performance of power sector planning.

Assoc. Dr. Chalee Charoenlapanoparat, Vice Chancellor at Thammasat University said:

“By changing the energy models and making management plans concrete, Thailand will be able to cease its dependence on coal and stand on its own. Policymaking in energy production should be done with the cooperation of all sectors, not solely by the fossil fuel industry and groups with hidden self-interests. Various opportunities and challenges lie ahead for Thailand’s energy generation systems and networks for when the era of coal comes to an end. We must hold the people as the main priority, aiming for the true stability in the energy sector.”

 

Notes:

[1] Teluk Patani is an area of integral ecosystems, having served surrounding communities for long time, whether on land or in the water. It covers over 30,000 rai of wetlands, consisting of around 23,125 rai of mangrove forests which are nurseries to marine animals and conjoined with other ecosystems. Download the map of “Tuelo Pattani” at www.greenpeace.or.th/climate/Tueloe-Patane-Map-and-Air-pollution-chart.pdf

[2] https://www.egat.co.th/images/information/articles/2558/egat-hearing58-tepha-k3-plant-report.pdf

[3] http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/th/PageFiles/710503/FA-Coal-Power-Plant-Report-TH-Map-final.pdf

[4] http://www.energy.go.th/international/index.php?action_content=article-single&id=191


For more information:

Chariya Senpong, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Email: , Tel.: +66 81 692 8978

Somrudee Panasutha, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Email: , Tel.: +66 81 929 5747