Maptaput monitoring, water supply projects likely complete in 3 months

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Korbsak Sapawasu, secretary to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, meets with citizens and business leaders at Rayong’s Maptaput industrial zone.

Five projects aimed at better monitoring industrial pollution and bolstering the water supply in Rayong’s Maptaput industrial zone should be complete within three months, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Speaking at an Oct. 15 progress meeting at the Government Office Center in Rayong, Korbsak Sapawasu, secretary to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, estimated that monitoring systems for hazardous materials, water quality and environmental quality would be finished at the same time as an expansion of the water supply system to ensure both industry and residents have enough clean water.

The meeting with 33 community representatives, Rayong Gov. Tawatchai Terdphaothai, the Industrial Estate of Thailand, Rayong Industrial Office, and other units came as the government tries to solve the last remaining complaints that led to this year’s court-ordered suspension of dozens of Maptaput developments. All but a handful of the projects have been allowed to resume.

As part of the court settlement, the government agreed to measure “VOCs,” or volatile organic compounds, as well as build a water-quality monitoring station and an environmental-quality surveillance center. Authorities also pledged to resolve water supply issues that fueled some of the legal complaints.

Korbsak said he was satisfied with the progress on the water system construction project, which has restored water quality and supply to “Uncle Noi,” one of the plaintiffs in the court case. He said the water system and the other four measures should be complete within three months.

Other projects, however, may need more time to be completed, Korbsak said, including the controversial “natural buffer zone” being built between PTT Polyethylene Co. and homes on Pracharat Songkhro Road.  The secretary and his team inspected this area following the meeting and concluded that perhaps faster growing trees should be used.

Local activists and international environmental group Greenpeace have criticized the plan to build a grove of trees to shield residents from pollution as inadequate. And Korbsak’s opinion following his tour may have bolstered their argument. The secretary said the new trees planted need three years to mature, which does nothing to solve the problem right now. He said faster-growing or mature trees are needed instead.