Chemical barrels found buried at Sri Thep waste plant

Photo courtesy of Aek Uthai Co. Ltd.

Phetchabun police uncovered an alarming situation at an industrial waste treatment plant in Sri Thep district, where barrels filled with chemicals were found buried underground without proper treatment. This discovery may clarify why locals have recently reported a persistent and strong chemical odour.

The plant, operated by Aek Uthai Co, a company based in Phachi district, Ayutthaya province, was raided yesterday by police, pollution control authorities, and factory standard regulators. The raid was conducted following an order from acting National Police Chief Kitrat Phanphet to investigate previous fires and suspected arson at several chemical storage warehouses.

Investigations have revealed connections between these incidents and either Aek Uthai Co or Win Process Co, headquartered in Rayong. Assistant Police Chief Itthipol Atchariyapradit, who participated in the raid, confirmed that documents seized from the Sri Thep plant indicated links between this facility and other industrial sites in Ayutthaya and Nakhon Ratchasima. Additionally, Aek Uthai’s Sri Thep branch office was found to have ties with Win Process in Rayong.

Governor Krit Khongmuang of Phetchabun stated that officials had been inundated with complaints from residents about the chemical smell, believed to be originating from Aek Uthai’s plant. The governor noted that some villagers had fallen ill and required medical attention after inhaling the suspected chemical vapours.

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“The company will likely face charges for possessing hazardous substances without permission, a violation of the Hazardous Substances Act.”

The plant could lose its operating licence. Governor Krit also mentioned that provincial authorities are advocating for civil lawsuits against the company to ensure affected parties receive compensation. Samples of the chemicals found in the buried barrels, presumed to be toxic waste, have been sent for laboratory analysis.

In a statement, Krit emphasised the seriousness of the situation.

“This is a grave matter, and we will take all necessary legal actions to ensure the safety and health of our residents.”

Police are now focused on the broader implications of this discovery, particularly the potential environmental and health impacts on the local community. The investigation continues, with officials seeking to determine the full extent of the improper chemical disposal and any other illegal activities at the plant.

The findings from the lab analysis will be crucial in determining the toxicity levels of the chemicals and the potential harm they pose to the environment and public health, reported Bangkok Post.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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