Cement factory plants trees, changes processes to mitigate pollution at adjacent school

Friday, 21 June 2013 From Issue Vol. XXI No. 25 By  Warunya Thongrod

A cement factory adjacent to Pattaya School No. 11 began planting 200 trees, installing nets and changing procedures to offset dust and pollution that has disrupted classes and forced students to wear face masks in class.

Ekachai Chaitrakulthong, managing director of STC Concrete Products, joined school Principal Jeerasak Jitsom and Pattaya City Councilman Banjong Banthoonprayuk June 10 for a planting ceremony held to mark World Environment Day five days earlier.

Tall trees have been planted and high nets erected to mitigate the dust invading the school from the cement factory next door.Tall trees have been planted and high nets erected to mitigate the dust invading the school from the cement factory next door.

The company bought the 38,000 baht in pine trees to act as a barrier between the plant and school, where students, unhappy with the pollution and the school’s response to it, went to the media last month to complain.

Students in three buildings, especially those on the third and fourth floors, have suffered respiratory ailments from dust clouds that are so thick students must sweep and wipe down classrooms between periods.

The dust has stoked allergies and students have taken to wearing face masks in class. Others reported skin irritation or acne flare-ups.

Jeerasak said the school had tried to solve the problem by getting the STC to water down its property and plant trees and install nets to buffer dust clouds. Those efforts were unsuccessful until the company was embarrassed in print.

“After I learned of the problems faced by the teachers and students, the company did not sit idle,” Ekachai said. “We have worked according to suggestions from the Public Health and Environment Department to solve the pollution problem.”

In addition to planting trees, the company will install nets above the pines to shield the school’s top floor from dust clouds, Ekachai said. He also instructed workers to water down the facility more frequently and restrict cleanup operations, which kick up dust, to after-school hours.

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