200 protest IRPC expansion in Rayong

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More than 200 Rayong residents protested outside Integrated Refinery & Petrochemical Complex Co.’s Maptaput facility to oppose the company’s 42 billion baht expansion plan.

The Khon Rak Baan Khai neighborhood group, Rayong Administration Organization Council President Setha Pitudecha, former Rayong Prison Warden Apirak Ruangrit and local government officials complained the project will consume more than 2,000 rai of land near the Rayong River that would better serve nearby residents as a park.

Rayong residents protest outside Integrated Refinery & Petrochemical Complex Co.’s Maptaput facility. Rayong residents protest outside Integrated Refinery & Petrochemical Complex Co.’s Maptaput facility.

Setha said more than 1,000 people have signed a petition opposing IRPC’s expansion, claiming the project has not passed through any environmental or health-impact studies and that the company was ignoring local concerns.

IRPC last year unveiled plans to dramatically expand its Rayong refinery over the next five years through 19 projects related to both refining and petrochemicals. Southeast Asia’s largest petrochemical complex also plans to widen the array of petrochemical products manufactured locally.

Work on the so-called “Phoenix Projects” was delayed due to lengthy environmental litigation filed against the Maptaput Industrial Estate, but with those concerns largely resolved, expansion plans are again moving forward.

Despite the jobs Maptaput brings to the region, Setha said Maptaput has had a negative impact on the Rayong community and that opponents would stage even larger protests if their concerns remain unaddressed.