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Environmental study of eastern seaboard planned

Leading Thai environmental groups will conduct a study on ecological issues along coastal areas to help industries control environmental compliance costs and protect marine ecosystems.

The Association of Natural Disaster Prevention Industry, Kasetsart University and Geosyntec Consultants will use the pilot study to devise a conservation program.

Insights gained from the study will be used to help the owners of industrial facilities find the most efficient and cost effective way to achieve environmental compliance.

The study will be conducted largely by Kasetart's Faculty of Fisheries. The exercise is an extension of work conducted by KU's Department of Marine Science, which studied the impact of the oil spill off Rayong last year.

While their research found that the impact of the spill was relatively minor, the study will help create technical and proactive programs to help monitor and protect the environment and safeguard marine ecosystems.

The study will involve collecting and assessing waste emissions data and environmental samples.

The goal is to outline recommendations for an emissions monitoring and control program for coastal industries.

Pran Siamwalla, president of the Association of Natural Disaster Prevention Industry, said: "ANDPI will be the focal point for discussion and coordination with stakeholders.

"We will also coordinate with KU and Geosyntec to provide materials for public briefings and public relations support.

"Geosyntec, a US-based consulting firm with a presence in Thailand, Malaysia and Australia, will provide perspective on how environmental practices from the United States, Australia and Europe can be applied to coastal issues in Thailand."

Assistant Professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat, of KU's Faculty of Fisheries, said the work involved three tasks: compiling onshore emissions and discharge data; identifying onshore marine receptors and human receptors; and assessing toxicology and receptor exposure.

"Upon completion of the third task, the receptor evaluation will serve as a guide to direct the optimal application of available resources to monitor relevant emissions and discharges, implement incremental emission and discharge control measures and steer the preparation of emergency response resources," Thon said.

"This will result in a more efficient and cost-effective selecting of future pollution control and monitoring programs, and a more efficient use of industrial environmental control budgets."

Pran Siamwalla said that once the study was completed, a report would be presented to the media and general public. It would start in the second quarter and was expected to be completed within a year.

Sampling would take place within a relatively small area - about 50 square kilometres along the eastern shore, including the eastern seaboard industrial zone - yet it promised to yield detailed data that could be used as a springboard for future ecological studies.

About 20 scientists would lead the study with the assistance of a team of experts.


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