Citizen Science in action at Nong Phawa, Thailand
EARTH REPORT 21 August 2022
Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH) joins citizen scientists, Somsong Wattana and Tiab Smanmit in investigating the environmental impacts of industrial recycling in Eastern Thailand.
Somsong, a native of Phanom Sarakham, Chachoengsao – an eastern province long targeted for industrial expansion – has had a long journey from victims of industrial pollution to active propagators of Citizen Science. On the day of the investigation, he brought a multiprobe water quality tester, which he bought after learning of heavy metal contaminations in Chachoengsao’s water basins.
A less experienced Citizen Scientist, Tiab Smanmit, is an owner of a rubber plantation in Rayong, eastern Thailand – one of the most industry-rich provinces in Thailand. Since 2013, his plantation has been impacted by a recycling factory called Win Process. By 2020, he had lost up more than 1000 rubber trees. He and 14 other citizens of Nong Phawa village – all impacted by the factory – is in the middle of a lawsuit calling for compensation for damage and environmental restoration.
Aside from exchanging their experiences in fighting industrial pollution, Somsong demonstrated to Tiab how to use the water quality tester. Sanit Maneesri – another citizen of Nong Phawa – also watched the demonstration. They had a chance to use the equipment to test the still polluted water in Tiab’s plantation.
The fact that the water is polluted can be seen with naked eyes. Some of the water in waterways in Tiab’s plantation exhibited orange colors. Testing found pH level of 5.5 in one spot and 2.7 in another. Lead was found at 0.17 ml/l and 0.38 ml/l in the two spots respectively, exceeding the standard levels allowed under Thai law, and posing serious health dangers to people in the area.
“The result of the testing shows severe pollution.” Somsong said. “By using scientific equipment, we guarantee that there is contamination – it’s not just something we made up in our minds. However, we still need government agencies to confirm our results.”
Photos by: Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH)