Officials Urged to Reject Factory Pertmit
EARTH REPORT 14 October 2021
CHACHOENGSAO, THAILAND – Locals of Tha Than subdistrict crashed a municipal authority’s meeting and convinced government officials to deny permit to a recycling factory.
Following a polluting recycling company’s request for new permit, locals of Tha Than under the name “Tha Than-Ban Song Group” demanded to attend a meeting where the matter was being discussed.
The factory, established in 2018 by a company called Banana Disposal, has been causing water pollution and foul smell in the Tha Than subdistrict. Locals have demanded government agencies to take actions for years, but to no avail.
Between 14 – 15 September 2021, locals spotted four trucks transporting oil-like liquids into the factory. They became suspicious since the factory had not received a license to operate businesses with health hazards. Since storing oil is considered “business with health hazards”, Banana Disposal would be breaking the law.
The Tha Than-Ban Song Group created a petition with 264 signatures calling on the Tha Than municipal authority to deny Banana Disposal’s request for a license, which had been submitted weeks after citizens spotted the truck.
The municipal authority held a meeting with several government agencies to discussing Banana’s request, but Tha Than citizens, who had been affected by the factory’s pollution, were not invited to voice their opinions. On 14 October 2021, the Tha Than-Ban Song Group showed up at the Municipal Authority building, demanded to join the meeting and to submit their petition. This request was granted.
After the meeting, the group and other Tha Than citizens successfully demanded to join government officials in a tour of the factory compound. The company explained that the oil were left-over ingredients, and that the factory was not operating on them. The ingredients and other wastes inside the factory emitted foul smell. Spilled oil was noticed, causing concerns that it could contaminate nearby farmlands.
Other than permits for health hazards, recycling companies often require another permit for “owning hazardous materials”. Banana Disposal does not have this permit. However, the Chachoengsao Industrial Authority let the company off the hook, stating that used oil is not considered “hazardous material” by legal definition.
In spite of that, the municipal authority agreed with the locals’ demand, and denied Banana’s request for “health hazard” permit. With this, the factory must now remove all ingredients, including used oil and other wastes, from the factory compound. Locals demanded this be done within a month. However, the factory successfully negotiated to extend the deadline to 25 December.
At the end, the factory owner, representatives of the locals, and several government agencies signed an agreement stating that until all the oil and waste are removed, the factory must be open to investigations by government and citizens’ sectors.
A member of the Tha Than-Ban Song Group stated that in 2020, an investigation by the Department of Groundwater Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, showed that pollutants found in local wells were the same as those found in the factory’s monitoring well. However, the Chachoengsao Industrial Authority maintained that those results are “not applicable by law”.
Photos by the Tha Than-Ban Song Group