NHC demands final report on Chevron project

national November 07, 2012 00:00


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The National Health Commission (NHC) yesterday demanded the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) disclose the final environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) of the deep-sea port and chemical storage site to be

The site will be located in Nakhon Si Thammarat's Tha Sala district. An ONEP panel of experts approved the final EHIA report on September 11, which will help the US oil giant go ahead with its drilling and exploration work in the Gulf of Thailand.

Once Chevron finalises the EHIA report and agrees to the mitigating factors, ONEP will then hand it over to the Independent Commission on Environment and Health (ICEH) for recommendation before it is forwarded to the Marine Department for final approval. 
The ICEH needs to study this report because the deep-sea port and the chemical storage site are categorised as harmful to the environment under the Constitution’s Article 67 (2). 
Under this article, ICEH and the Marine Department need to hold a public hearing before pushing the project through. 
“Information about measures to mitigate the project’s impacts seemed to be unclear. We have asked ONEP several times for the final EHIA report so we can see for ourselves what measures will be taken. However, we were always refused,” Somporn Pengkam, the NHC’s HIA coordinating unit director, said. 
Somporn was speaking at public forum hosted by the National Human Rights Commission, which was attended by 500 villagers and representatives from ONEP and local authorities. 
Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production representatives said they were not ready to join the event. 
Meanwhile, Somporn said the ONEP expert panel had been studying this report since 2010 before approving it in September.
“However, we want to know the exact criteria used by the panel,” she said. 
The NHC believes activities related to the deep-sea port and construction of the chemical storage site would affect marine life as well as the livelihoods of local fishermen. 
The EHIA report is said to cover only a 5-kilometre radius of the construction site at Ban Bang Sarn in Tambon Klai, when in reality at least 10,000 fishermen living outside that area will be affected, Somporn said. 
Piyanant Sophonthanaporn, director of ONEP’s Environmental Impact Assessment Bureau, said the expert panel had approved this EHIA report because Chevron had taken additional measures to mitigate the impacts after the panel rejected it seven times. 

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