PM orders assessment of all factories every 3 months


NONTHABURI, May 7 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Monday she has instructed the industry ministry to step up safety measures by inspecting all factories every three months in the aftermath of serious accidents in two plants in industrial estates in the eastern province of Rayong over the weekend.

The premier said the industry ministry has also been assigned to assess the risk of the chemical leak at the Aditya Birla Chemicals (Thailand) factory in the Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate.

She said that industry officials will have to visit all factories for every three months to inspect the chemicals used in the plants. The assessment result will have impact on the extension of the permit of factory operations.

The premier noted that safety measures need to be reviewed and tightened although the current ones already meet international standards.

Saturday’s explosion and fire at the Bangkok Synthetics Co (BST) petrochemical factory at the Map Ta Phut industrial estate killed 12 people, while 24 of the 142 injured remain hospitalised.

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) ordered the company to stop butadiene rubber production in order to find the cause of the explosion and to assess the damage from the incident as well as to equipment in nearby areas.

Just one day later, chlorine leaked from the Aditya Birla Chemicals (Thailand) factory in the nearby Hemaraj industrial estate after an emergency shutdown of the plant’s operations.

The gas reportedly spread through surrounding areas for a short time, dizzying at least 131 people, while 12 still hospitalised.

The industrial estate agency on Monday suspended the plant’s operations until the investigation of the accident is complete.

Industry Minister Pongsawat Svastiwat on Monday instructed concerned agencies to tighten safety measures in the industrial sector.

The minister made his remarks as he met with the governor of Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), as well as concerned officials and entrepreneurs in the Map Ta Phut complex.

Mr Pongsawat emphasised that such accidents must not reoccur and that the IEAT will meet with factories using chemical or hazardous substances in their operations to lay out stricter measures.

The Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) on Monday issued a statement regarding the two accidents, urging the government to make the clearer policies to protect workers, rather than focusing only on the rising export figures.

TLSC chairman Chalee Loysoong said the group will submit a letter of complaint to Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap on Thursday.