Onep promises cadmium clear-up for Mae Sot locals

BANGKOK POST  Issued date 1 October 2014

PARITTA WANGKIAT
The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) has vowed to enforce strict legal measures to eradicate cadmium contamination in the Mae Tao river basin.
Villagers in Tak’s Mae Sot district say contamination caused by zinc mining operations has been harming their health and farmland for 40 years.
A draft of new Environmental Protected Area (EPA) regulations should be ready by the end of the year. The rules will restrict activities that pose a risk to the environment in tambons Phra That Pha Daeng, Mae Tao and Mae Ku.
Weranit Thansuporn, an Onep director, said the regulations would be based on information from recent public hearings in the three pollution-hit tambons. He said the regulations will be enforced once they get cabinet approval next year.
The regulations follow a Phitsanulok Administrative Court ruling in August last year. The ruling ordered the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to issue an EPA for the area, but the department failed to meet its deadline to do so.
In 2009, activists and 32 villagers in the tambons launched a court case complaining that cadmium from Padaeng Industry’s zinc mine was affecting their health and farmland. They demanded 3 billion baht compensation.
Tests conducted by Mae Sot Hospital in 2004 showed that almost half of the 7,679 villagers had unsafe levels of cadmium in their urine. But there has never been any way to prove that the contamination resulted from the zinc mine.
Padaeng Industry has always insisted that its toxic management procedures are in line with international standards.
Anti-mining protest leader Yannaphat Prai-mee-saab said: “We want to see cadmium eradicated from our villages as soon as possible.”

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