Pattaya removes medical waste that sparked Khao Maikaew protests

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Khao Maikaew residents resumed protests against Pattaya using their community as a dumpsite after the discovery that hazardous medical waste was being disposed of there. Two days later, workers began removing more than 100 tons of hazardous medical waste that had been dumped there, allegedly without residents’ knowledge.
Khao Maikaew residents resumed protests against Pattaya using their community as a dumpsite after the discovery that hazardous medical waste was being disposed of there. Two days later, workers began removing more than 100 tons of hazardous medical waste that had been dumped there, allegedly without residents’ knowledge.

Pattaya has begun removing more than 100 tons of hazardous medical waste that sparked protests by Khao Maikaew residents after it was dumped there without their knowledge.

Contractor Nightingale Health Care Ltd. on Jan. 26 sprayed disinfectant and deodorant on the stinky refuse – which included used syringes, soiled tissue and bloody bandages – and began loading it onto a special temperature-controlled truck for incineration in Nakhon Sawan Province.

The truck can carry seven tons of waste each trip and the entire operation was estimated to take 20 days.

The operation began two days after neighbors of the Moo 4 village dump rose up in protest, asserting that infectious waste was not allowed to be disposed of there and that it was piling up instead of being hauled away.

Mayor Jamnien Kitipakul and Banglamung defense chief Prapan Pratumchompu escorted a contingent of solders to check the site Jan. 24.

Residents said a private contractor previously hauled away the waste to be burned elsewhere, but the contract apparently had expired, resulting in the pile up. Locals submitted a letter demanding to know who authorized the dumping of medical waste in their backyards.

Jamnien said people feared they could contract diseases from the infectious waste.

Responding to the uprising, Pattaya officials dispatched a medical team to offer free health checks to neighbors. The team reported that no one’s health had been adversely affected by the germ-filled garbage.

That proved little solace to Khao Maikaew Sub-district Council member Banchar U-Dong, who remained outraged at not only the unapproved dumping, but the length of time Pattaya was taking to clear it. He said the city had money enough to use more than one truck a day and that hauling it to Nakhon Sawan was a waste of time as there were closer incinerators.

He said the council will be voting on a measure to outlaw the disposal of medical waste in the sub-district.

Workers have begun removing more than 100 tons of hazardous medical waste that sparked protests by Khao Maikaew residents after it was dumped there allegedly without their knowledge.
Workers have begun removing more than 100 tons of hazardous medical waste that sparked protests by Khao Maikaew residents after it was dumped there allegedly without their knowledge.

Pattaya has a long and tortured relationship with Khao Maikaew, which for decades has been the garbage bin of the resort city. Pattaya used a 140-rai parcel as its main landfill, but was forced to suspend operations there in 2013 after residents blockaded the facility.

However, some waste continued to be dumped there temporarily, much to residents’ dismay. Pattaya is now looking to build a new “Cluster 2” waste-management facility in Khao Maikaew over the objections of residents and city leaders.

Banchar claimed that Pattaya simply doesn’t care about sub-district residents, as shown by its continued use of the disputed dumpsite and failure to address concerns that contaminated water from the landfill is flowing into the Khao Maikaew’s water supply.

Sutee Tubnonghi, director of the Pattaya Environment Department, said the city will coordinate with the Chonburi Public Health Department and begin water-quality tests within a week.

As for future medical waste shipments, Sutee said temporary disposal sites have been arranged on Sukhumvit Soi 2 and on Soi Chaiyapruek until permanent arrangements to burn the waste elsewhere.