Pong investigates illegal chemical dump

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Pong Sub-district officials have isolated a vacant lot where up to 10,000 liters of an unknown, foul-smelling chemical were dumped illegally.

Pong chief administrator Kithisak Monkaew, village chief Nikorn Kradkraiy, police and officials from the Industrial Research Center of Chonburi inspected the sand-storage lot in Namuang village Aug. 28 following reports that an unmarked truck off-loaded 50 barrels of chemicals and fled the scene a day earlier.

Inspectors seal off the area and begin inspecting the barrels.
Inspectors seal off the area and begin inspecting the barrels.

Residents discovered that the barrels – varying in size from 100 to 200 liters – some were sealed and some open. The open containers put off a foul smell. Residents were unsure of what the compound was, but some of the barrels were marked “styrene monomer”.

Styrene monomer, a chemical derived from petroleum or natural gas by-products, is a kind of chemical “building block” for creating a multitude of versatile plastics and synthetic rubbers. It is a clear, colorless liquid and has been produced synthetically for about 70 years.

Authorities would not state that the liquid they found was in fact the synthetic styrene, saying they needed to send samples for testing and results would not be known for up to three weeks.

Meanwhile, they sealed off the area, assigned health workers to monitor nearby residents and began a hunt for the property owner. No mention was made of removing the barrels or cleaning up the mess.

Prawit Praditham, 52, said he saw the truck from his nearby house several days ago and no one knew what the workers on board were doing until they saw the barrels left behind.

Locals said the sandlot is near a local water supply, so they worried about contamination.