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Just how many hazardous chemicals are going through Laem Chabang port?

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“The containers were loaded with “dolls and toys” and there are no chemical substances present.”

That was the first explanation we heard after the fire that happened last Saturday, May 25, when containers from the KMTC Hongkong burst into flames at Laem Chabang Port, south east of Bangkok. The port area is just to the north of Pattaya on the eastern seaboard.

Firefighters spent nearly 18 hours battling the confounding blaze as it spread through the containers on the ship billowing toxic fumes and plumes of smoke, causing 228 people, including nearby residents, to be rushed to hospital with burns, eye irritation and breathing difficulties.

Financial losses, still not fully accounted for, are estimated at well over 100 million baht, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.

When a 15 kilometre radius was declared around the site as a ‘red zone’ local Thais became rightfully suspicious that a few dolls and toys going up in smoke could cause so much disruption.

Later it was declared that the dolls and toys were actually calcium hypochlorite, a flammable and potentially dangerous chemical. But authorities had to analyse the chemicals that had caused so much damage and smoke because there was no record of it being in the containers on the ship.

Calcium hypochlorite is widely used in water treatment systems, but the substance can release dangerous chlorine gases when burning.

It is classified as a Class 5 Hazardous Product, in a list of nine hazardous substances.

The Port director reported that the ship was carrying 676 containers from China and that the KMTC Hong Kong had failed to declare the chemical was in the containers.

When the ship arrived at Laem Chabang, 463 containers were offloaded with the remaining containers, including the 13 containers (the ones that caught fire), designated for delivery to an address in Samut Prakan.

According to records, the freighter originated in South Korea and made stops at Shanghai and Hong Kong before arrival in the Gulf of Thailand port. An investigation indicates that the 13 containers held 325 tonnes of the calcium hypochlorite.

Investigators and directors at the port say that the owners of the ship must be held responsible for not declaring the hazardous contents of the containers.

If not for the fire, port officials say, the illegally transported goods would likely have reached their destination without anyone knowing. Now the question is how many of these containers passing through the Bangkok port, full of hazardous chemicals, are passing through without being declared or detected?

Currently, the handling of dangerous goods at Laem Chabang Port is carried out by a private firm under a port authority contractual arrangement.

Following last week’s fire, the assistant director at Laem Chabang port says that all vessels tying up at the port must make a full declaration of materials and goods being carried aboard.

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Thailand

1 killed, 20 injured in gas pipe explosion in Samut Prakan

Caitlin Ashworth

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1 killed, 20 injured in gas pipe explosion in Samut Prakan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: mthai

A gas pipe explosion at a Samut Prakan industrial site killed 1 and injured 20 others. Flames burst in the air and those at homes in the province’s Bang Bo district fled the area. At this time, there’s been 1 confirmed death, an elderly bedridden woman, but Thai media reports there could be another death.

Around 40 to 50 fire engines were called to the scene to extinguish the fire at the site near Wat Preng Ratbanrung on Thepparat-Lat Krabang Road. The mayor of the tambon Preng administration organisation reported the incident in a broadcast on the traffic radio station JS100.

The gas pipe that exploded leads to the large-scale Asia Industrial Estate Suvarnabhumi, according to the senior executive vice president of PTT’s gas business unit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency

Caitlin Ashworth

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Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency | The Thaiger

Bangkok’s State of Emergency has been lifted, according to a statement published in the Royal Gazette, making it official. The order, banning large public gatherings, and censoring critical media commentary, was imposed last Thursday morning by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, leading to the breaking up a protest and the arrests of a number of activists.

“The current violent situation that led to the announcement of the severe situation has eased and ended to a situation in which government officials and state agencies can enforce the regular laws.”

Protesters ignored the orders and rallies only grew over the past week. The recent series of protests started on Wednesday, October 14 at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument. The demonstration happened to be at the same day and the same route as a royal motorcade, causing complications as well as a clash between the royal supporters and the protesters calling on reform.

Protesters walked to the Government House and intended to set up camp for a few days to put pressure on Prayut to resign. The protest was broken up at 4am the next morning after the prime minister issued the state of emergency. More than 20 activists were arrested, many faced charges of violating the emergency measures.

Despite the government orders, there have been rallies everyday. The emergency order also banned content on websites and social media considered to be a “threat to national security.” Some Thai media outlets covering the protests were under fire, and some authorities tired to suspend them under the emergency order. The court dismissed the requests to block those media companies, saying the Thai Constitution does not give the court power to shutdown media platforms.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Visa

Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa

Caitlin Ashworth

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Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Surely, the most anticipated and followed tourists ever to grace Thailand’s shores. All 39 visitors who flew in from China this week on the new Special Tourist Visa have tested negative for Covid-19. While it’s a small group, they’re the first foreign tourists to arrive since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

More international tourists are expected to arrive next week under the auspices of the new Special Tourist Visa. If there are no positive Covid-19 cases in the first groups, the government says they could start to lift restrictions, like cutting down the mandatory quarantine period, or allowing more applicants under the STV.

2 more groups travelling from China are expected to arrive next week on October 26 and 27, according to the tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. Another group of travellers from Scandinavian countries are expected to arrive in November.

Reopening borders to foreign tourists has been a concern for some about the potential spread of the coronavirus, even though tourists are required to go through a 14 day quarantine period before travelling in the country. Phiphat says those entering Thailand on the Special Tourist Visa are only those from areas declared free of Covid-19 for at least a month.

“Europe now faces a second wave… The Tourism and Sports Foreign ministries will allow tourists from low-risk cities with zero new cases for more than 30 days.”

If there continues to be no positive Covid-19 cases from those on the Special Tourist Visa, Phiphat says they government could implement a more relaxed quarantine. Health officials have talked about cutting the quarantine down to 10 days and possibly just a week. Phiphat says they would first need approval from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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