THE KLITY Creek will be cleaned within this year with the lead slag being buried and dykes being built to trap the contaminated sediment, as per the Pollution Control Department (PCD)’s plans.
However, many local residents are against this plan because they believe these steps will not really solve the problem, and are calling on the PCD to remove the lead and dispose it of in an industrial waste-disposal plant.
PCD director Wichan Simachaya said the department has already completed its study on cleaning the creek, which is contaminated with lead slag from a lead-mining operation upstream, and that the operation can kick off in the next few months.
“It took us time to make the decision because we had to be cautious and had to study the area first before doing anything. Now we have decided to clean the creek by digging out the lead and burying it in the landfill near the former site of the lead mine,” Wichan disclosed.
“The landfill site will be prepared ahead in order to prevent further contamination from the landfill. The plan has already won approval from most Lower Klity villagers and the funding has already been granted, so the plan will be implemented soon.”
He added that the plan also included the construction of two dykes to trap the lead slag and contaminated sediment flowing downstream, which can help ease the concentration of lead in the lower part of the creek.
According to Tanapon Phenrat, a lecturer at Naresuan University’s Faculty of Engineering, the creek is highly contaminated, with the sediment measuring between 7,500 and160,000 milligrams per kilogram, while the acceptable sediment level is just 140mg per kg.
Kamthon Srisuwanmala, a Lower Klity villager, explained that the lead sediment was spread in a wide area around the mine and down the creek to his village. Kamthon is one of the villagers protesting against the plan to dig up the lead and bury it in the landfill near the mine.
“The landfill site is located on the hill above the village, so every time it rains the water will flow from the hill to the creek below and flow into our village. So we are concerned that this plan will not effectively remove the lead from the creek,” he reasoned.
Meanwhile, Surapong Kongchantuk, head of the Karen Studies and Development Centre, said people’s concerns should be addressed and the lead removed from the area and properly disposed of.
“The landfill site is only 500 metres away from the small creek that empties into the Klity Creek. The PCD should understand that it is not right to risk people’s health by opting for the easiest and cheapest way of removing the toxic sediment,” Surapong said.
Separately, Wichan said that as part of the effort to supply clean water to the affected villages, the Energy Ministry will provide solar water purifiers worth Bt600,000, while the Health Department will also look for an alternative source of clean water for the villagers.
“The department has already shown people in the Lower Klity Village how to safely use water from the creek. The water itself has low amounts of lead, so it can be used in some activities,” Wichan said.
However, Surapong pointed out that the 0.06mg of lead per litre of water in the creek was still higher than the industrial waste-water standard of 0.05mg per litre, which meant the water was still unsafe for consumption.