3 agencies find high mercury levels in fish
Toxicity tests conducted by three departments under three different ministries all showed high mercury accumulation in fish in water resources near an industrial estate in Prachin Buri province.
The source of the mercury contamination has, however, not yet been established, said Chumphol Chawapraphanant, a deputy director-general of the Department of Industrial Works, the fourth agency taking part in the investigation.
The Industry Ministry's Department of Pollution Control (DPC), the last agency to conduct the test, announced yesterday that its tests, conducted twice, had found that 17 kinds of fish out of 23 sampled contained high mercury levels, although they were within international safety levels under the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
The DPC also found mercury in fish in the Bang Pakong and Prachin Buri rivers, both of which travel through several provinces in addition to Prachin Buri. But DPC director-general Wichian Jungrungrueng did not give details over the level of mercury found or whether it was too toxic for human consumption.
The Department of Disease Control, under the Public Health Ministry, and the Department of Fisheries, under the Agriculture Ministry, earlier conducted tests at Chalongwang Canal in Sri Maha Pho district and found similar results indicating high levels of mercury.
Deputy Department of Fishery director-general Somwang Phimol-butr said the mercury level found in two tests at the canal was the highest ever detected by his department. He made an unofficial call on residents of tambon Tha Toom, who feed on fish caught in Chalongwang Canal, to stop eating it for a while.
Chumphol has set up a tripartite panel comprising representatives of the state authorities, private sector and local communities, to start dealing with the issue.