IRPC Plc, one of Thailand’s largest petrochemical companies, is the backbone of the Rayong economy.
It employs thousands of people, who in turn are the breadwinners for hundreds of Rayong families. In addition, countless contractors, subcontractors and suppliers rely on IRPC for their livelihoods.
I have lived in Rayong for more than 10 years and am aware that IRPC is active in local communities with civic action programmes and activities to support and enhance the lives of local people. This is all to the good and IRPC deserves the credit.
But behind this corporate social responsibility is a dark side.
IRPC refinery chimney stacks are repeatedly belching great columns of dense black smoke into the atmosphere. This happens with alarming frequency and today, for example, two chimneys have been emitting clouds of smoke on and off for the past three hours.
I live not far from IRPC and a day after these smoke emissions, I can go around my house, run a finger along the tabletop or a bookcase shelf and come away with it covered with soot. God knows how much of the stuff I am breathing into my lungs.
I have many good friends who work at IRPC and I have met and know many of the senior executive and management. But I will no longer remain silent at this corporate irresponsibility.
If this happened in my home country, Australia, I suspect IRPC would be facing criminal charges involving fines running into millions of dollars – yes dollars, not baht.
It is long overdue for IRPC to clean up its act.
PS: Yesterday’s photograph is a minor emission compared to what happens sometimes.