Court orders state agency to compensate in Klity Creek case

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BANGKOK, Jan 10 – The Supreme Administrative Court on Thursday ruled that the Industry Ministry’s Pollution Control Department was too slow to clean up lead contaminated Klity Creek in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, ordering it to pay compensation to villagers.

In giving the final verdict over the case, the Court said the department did not act promptly to restore the environment of Klitty Creek, leaving the 22 Karen residents exposed to toxic substances and use contaminated water from the creek for drinking and other personal uses.

It ordered the department to pay Bt177,159.50 to each of the Karen residents, a total of Bt3,897,509 within 90 days of the final ruling.

The court also ordered the department to draw up a plan to restore Klitty Creek and regularly test the water quality for a year to make sure the lead content is lowered to the required level.

The verdict ended a nine-year legal battle between the department and the 22 Karen people who filed the lawsuit in 2004.

In the lawsuit, the Karen said the department was too slow to clean up Klitty Creek after the Lead Concentrate Co illegally discharged water highly contaminated with lead into the stream, causing them to suffer from the health hazards caused by the metal.

The company was forced to shut down in1998.

The Administrative Court in May 2008 found the department guilty of negligence for being slow to clean up the creek heavily contaminated with lead.

The court at that time ordered the department to pay compensation of Bt33,783 to each Karen plaintiff, or a total of Bt743,226.

Both the Karen and the department appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Surapong Kongchanthuek, director of the Centre for Study and Development of Karen who supported the Karen in the case, said he was satisfied with the court’s verdict.

Wichien Jungrungruang, director general of Pollution Control Department said the department accepted the court’s ruling.

He said the department would remove some lead dregs that were buried by the creek since 1999 for treatment and would coordinate with the Water Resources Department to reduce the lead that contaminated water in the creek.