Pattaya adds trucks to speed removal of medical waste

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Pattaya has increased the number of vehicles hauling medical waste out of a disputed dumpsite in Khao Maikaew in an attempt to quiet the uproar among neighbors.
Pattaya has increased the number of vehicles hauling medical waste out of a disputed dumpsite in Khao Maikaew in an attempt to quiet the uproar among neighbors.

Pattaya increased the number of trucks hauling medical waste out of a disputed dumpsite in Khao Maikaew in an attempt to quiet the uproar among neighbors.

Natawut Burarak, manager for Miss Nightingale Health Care, which was hired by the city to remove the 120 tons of hazardous waste, said the operation began with one truck hauling six tons of refuse to Nakhon Sawan each day.

Khao Maikaew residents, outraged over Pattaya’s violation of an agreement never to store more than 100 tons of medical waste in their backyards, argued the city should get rid of the syringes, soiled bandages and other infected garbage as quickly as possible.

In response, the contractor added more vehicles after getting Pattaya to increase the fee it was paying from 11 baht per kilogram to 16 baht per kilo. The city’s bill for cleaning up its mess in Khao Maikaew has now jumped to 6.4 million baht. And that does not include the fee to burn the hazmat in the Nakhon Sawan incinerator.

After three days of ramped-up transport, the company cleared 40 tons of waste. The entire backlog was scheduled to be removed before Feb. 15.

But the process has not been without obstacles. Pattaya wanted to move 20 tons of waste a day, but Thailand’s highway laws prohibited more than 15 tons in any one vehicle. So the city added more trucks.

The media attention the medical-waste dumping has received also prompted authorities to look more closely at the Nakhon Sawan incinerator.

Environmental officials cited the firm for not meeting legal standards, even though it had already been operating for nearly seven years.

However, incinerator officials have pledged to get rid of all of Pattaya’s medical waste before addressing its larger problems.