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Landfill

Fire shifts focus on illegal disposal

DAYS OF SMOG from a burning landfill in Samut Prakan has shifted the spotlight on illegal disposal of garbage, especially toxic waste, in this area.

The situation is so bad that even the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has decided to step in and address the problem.

"We have been suffering for a long time now. People have lodged complaints many times before, but nobody has come to our help," fish farm owner Anek Numthong said.

He was speaking to reporters as thick smog from the Phraek Sa landfill continued spreading far and wide, forcing people living in Samut Prakan and neighbouring Bangkok to wear facemasks to protect themselves.

DSI official Puwich Yamaha said available evidence showed that a massive amount of industrial and toxic waste had been dumped in this landfill.

"We will look into this case and inspect other landfills in Samut Prakan and Bangkok," he said, adding that the agency aimed to tackle the problem at its root.

"It's necessary that all relevant authorities take action against illegal garbage disposal," Puwich said.

Samut Prakan is the location of a large number of industrial factories, but its garbage-disposal facilities were nowhere close to standard. "If relevant authorities don't address this problem, the DSI will take action against them for dereliction of duty," he said.

Meanwhile, Samut Prakan Gover-nor Kanit Ieamrahong said he had already assigned a tambon administrative organisation to sue those involved in the Phraek Sa landfill. "In fact, this landfill was supposed to be closed," he said.

Napaporn Nguanjorn, a local village head, said a vast area in her neighbourhood was turned into the landfill about a decade ago. "But it was closed after a fire broke out three or four years go," she said.

However, she said she kept receiving complaints from local people that someone continued dumping garbage in the site. "I reported the problem to the relevant tambon administrative organisation but it dragged on," she said.

On Sunday, a fire broke out at the garbage dump again, except this time the problem caught media attention as the billowing thick smoke began posing serious health threats. Thousands of people have already been evacuated from the area near the landfill.

"I hope relevant authorities will settle this problem once and for all," Napaporn said.

Puttipong Soijumpa, the kamnan of Tambon Phraek Sa where the landfill is located, believed a law-enforcement agency should step in.

"Otherwise, problems like this will keep recurring," he said.

Im Paemor, chairman of the Tambon Phraek Sa Administrative Organisa-tion, said his agency had already lodged a complaint against Kromapol Samutsakhon, who has been identified as the operator of the landfill.

"We welcome an investigation by the DSI," he said.




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