Locals seek court order on dumpsite fire

national April 10, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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'Disposal of industrial waste violates law : officials accused of negligence

LOCAL PEOPLE living around the Praksa dumpsite in Samut Prakan, which is now spreading toxic smoke again, have petitioned the Central Administrative Court for help. 
As many as 162 people have signed the petition.
The petition filed yesterday urges the court to order relevant officials and relevant authorities to properly tackle problems from the dumpsite. 
Targeted in the petition are the chair of the Tambon Praksa Administrative Organisation, the public-health chief of Samut Prakan, the industry chief of Samut Prakan, the Samut Prakan governor, the Pollution Control Department (PCD), the Department of Industrial Works, and the National Environment Board (NEB).
According to the petition, industrial waste has been disposed of at the Praksa dumpsite in violation of the Environmental Quality Protection and Promotion Act of BE 2535 and the Public Health Act of BE 2535 for years. 
Locals have complained that the officials named in the petition and authorities have been negligent, and that as a result the 150-rai Praksa dumpsite has become a source of toxic smoke whenever a fire erupts there. 
Last month, a fire raged on for about a week, spreading the harmful smoke to several districts of Samut Prakan and Bangkok. 
This week, another fire broke out and as of press time the fire had blanketed wide areas, including Bang Na district. 
“The smoke has affected local people’s health and farmland,” Samnuan Praphin said in his capacity as the vice chair of the Lawyers Council of Thailand’s subcommittee on environmental cases.
Samnuan represents the 162 locals in submitting the petition to the Administrative Court. 
“The locals want the chair of the Tambon Praksa Administrative Organisation and the industry chief of Samut Prakan to take legal action against illegal operators of garbage disposal,” he said. 
The petition also urges the court to order the PCD to test whether local soil and underground water near the dumpsite had been contaminated with harmful substances. 
The locals have said in their petition that if contamination is detected, the PCD should tackle it and improve the quality of soil and underground water there. 
The petitioners also hope that operators causing the contamination would be held to account in civil lawsuits. 
“The locals are now looking forward to quick issue of injunctions [by the court] that will protect them from damage and nuisance,” Samnuan said. 

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