Prompt inquiry ordered into 11,000 tonnes of vanished cadmium waste

Picture courtesy of Thairath

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin issued a directive yesterday for a prompt inquiry into the vanishing of 11,000 tonnes of cadmium waste from a smelting factory in Samut Sakhon. The prime minister’s objective, as stated in his X account post yesterday, was to eliminate all dispersed tailings within a fortnight.

The cadmium tailings were discovered last Thursday, stored illicitly at a smelting factory in Mueang district. The waste amounted to approximately 13,450 tonnes, along with some zinc tailings. The cadmium tailings belonged to Bound & Beyond Plc in Tak, while the smelting factory is owned by J&B Metal Co in the province.

On Friday, the Samut Sakhon governor, Phon Damtham, declared the smelting factory and its vicinity as a restricted area for people for 90 days. The government further ordered the transportation of all the cadmium waste back to its source within one week and its removal within 15 days.

Chai Watcharonke, the spokesperson, confirmed yesterday that the prime minister has demanded stringent management so as not to disrupt people’s daily lives.

In the meantime, the Pollution Control Department (PCD) has been collecting soil and air samples within a radius extending from 10 metres to 1 kilometre from the factory. No cadmium contamination has been detected in the soil or air, according to Preeyaporn Suwannaked, the PCD director-general.

However, Preeyaporn also stated that significant cadmium contamination levels were observed inside and in front of the factory. The samples from the ground inside showed 7.15g/kg of cadmium, whereas those collected outside but still in front of the factory indicated 31.58g/kg of cadmium. The sample at the factory gate contained 2.83g/kg of cadmium. Each of these points had levels considerably exceeding the safe limit of 0.81g/kg.

In addition, PCD has gathered water samples from the drainage system and a nearby canal for lab tests. The director-general assured the department would hasten the results.

Preeyaporn added that the department is also considering an alternative location for the disposal of the cadmium waste if the plan to send it back to its origin in Tak is delayed.

Suraphon Wongsukpaisan, the deputy governor of Tak, reported that local authorities inspected the two pits where cadmium tailings were excavated and found them sturdy enough to rebury the waste, reported Bangkok Post.

Police General Phatcharavat Wongsuwan, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, has earlier directed the PCD to expedite their investigation process and be transparent with all the information.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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