Pattaya officials weigh burning, barging Koh Larn trash surplus

If nothing is done, Koh Larn will run out of dump space by early next year.
If nothing is done, Koh Larn will run out of dump space by early next year.

Pattaya – With still no long-term solution to Koh Larn’s garbage crisis in sight, Pattaya officials have agreed they will either buy new barges to transport it to the mainland or burn it in place.

Chonburi Deputy Gov. Chaichan Iamcharoen led the latest brainstorming meeting on the resort island’s trash troubles Dec. 13. Pattaya officials have spent most of this year talking and surveying the problem, but taking no action to actually solve it.

The latest meeting finally resulted in some agreement that a short-term solution is needed until a long-term solution can be found. The urgency comes from a prediction by former governor and now government advisor Pracha Taerat that Koh Larn will run out of dump space by early next year if nothing is done.

Pattaya City Council Chairman Anan Ankanawisan told the meeting that an earlier survey found there is 30,000 tons of garbage on the island and that its barges are now so dilapidated, they cannot move the waste to the mainland for disposal.

City spokesman Pinit Maneerat said the surplus is growing, with 10,000-12,500 people now visiting the island each day.

Island sanitation chief Itthiphol Netiyakup Singkornkaew said the trash crisis has been ongoing for years and is getting worse. The barges are broke, the dump is filling up and Pattaya officials appear no closer to finding a permanent solution.

The city council earlier agreed to hire King Mongkut’s University Bangkok North to study and recommend a solution, but they have not yet delivered their findings.

Pracha said officials need to immediately come up with a plan to remove the backlog of garbage from the island. This means buying as many barges as needed to do the job or decide to burn the trash on the island. Both options have downsides.

Pattaya’s disposal of old, rotting Koh Larn waste in Khao Maikaew was the final straw that broke the back of residents there, who revolted and shut down Pattaya’s main landfill in 2013. The city has struggled to find enough dump space for its own trash since then. Adding Koh Larn’s backlog will prove even more problematic.

Burning or buying trash on Koh Larn, however, raises severe environmental issues, as the island lacks neither a proper trash incinerator nor landfill space to dispose of the garbage.

Officials were expected to meet again before the end of the year to continue to work on the short-term options.