Greenpeace urges the ADB to drop Samut Prakarn Project

Press release - November 13, 2000
The environmental group Greenpeace today urged the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Thai government to stop the construction of the controversial waste water treatment project in Samut Prakarn province following a recent admission from the World Bank that such facilities are not really effective in addressing toxic effluents.

The environmental group Greenpeace today urged the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Thai government to stop the construction of the controversial waste water treatment project in Samut Prakarn province following a recent admission from the World Bank that such facilities are not really effective in addressing toxic effluents.

The environmental group suggested that the proponents of the Samut Prakarn project should channel much - needed resources instead into genuine pollution prevention projects which put a premium on the elimination of toxic inputs in production processes rather than the futile control of industrial poisons at the end of the pipe.

In an interesting turnaround, the World Bank, which has invested more than $50 million in similar common effluent treatment plants in India wrote to Greenpeace last week conceding that such facilities " fail to address toxic effluents." This admission comes less than two weeks after Greenpeace and community groups shut down a World Bank funded Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in Vapi, Gujarat state. The said facility has been found to be discharging a poisonous cocktail of heavy metals and persistent pollutants into nearby water systems despite the operation of a treatment system.

"This glowing admission by a peer of the ADB in the international financing community speaks volumes about how valuable resources which should be put to good use, end up being wasted in hollow , extravagant and ineffective projects whose eventual victims are poor communities. The Samut Prakarn effluent treatment project will not eliminate pollution, it will merely transfer pollution to another area and turn unwilling communities into toxic sacrifice zones, " said Tara Buakamsri of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"If the ADB and the Thai government are really serious about solving the pollution problem, we challenge them to invest in real programs that will encourage and assist industrial polluters to make the shift from dirty to clean production. Moreover, industrial polluters should be required to publicly disclose what they are discharging into the environment . The people have a right to know what toxic threats they are being exposed to" added Buakamsri.

Greenpeace together with community activists from Klong Dan also planned to launch a sustained information drive in Samut Prakarn, as well as in other areas, to warn communities victimized by industrial pollution to be on alert for false solutions such as common effluent treatment plants and incinerators.

"We implore the ADB to be true to its commitment to work for the uplift and welfare of the poor. This project, which has also been clouded by suspected anomalies, is anti-poor. When all is said and done, can the proponents and the industries who stand to benefit from this scheme guarantee that they can continue doing business as usual without killing us?, " said Dawan Chantahusdee, community leader of Klong Dan.

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