Thai government alert over Mekong River sulphuric acid spill from Laos

Picture courtesy of Pattanapong Sripiachai

Thailand’s government is on high alert following a sulphuric acid spill in the Mekong River on the Lao border. The contamination, which took place in Laos’s Luang Prabang town, occurred when a lorry carrying over 30 tonnes of the acid toppled over, causing the hazardous substance to leak into the Nam Khan River, which flows into the Mekong.

Residents in seven provinces along the Mekong River, including Loei, Nong Khai, Bueng Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen, and Ubon Ratchathani, have been instructed to vigilantly monitor the water quality. The Office of the National Water Resources predicts that the chemical will flow past Loei’s Chiang Khan district between April 8 and April 10.

Supamas Isarabhakdi, Minister of Higher Education Science Research and Innovation, has assembled an emergency response team from the Department of Science Service. This team has been tasked with monitoring the water quality in the aforementioned provinces and assessing potential environmental impacts.

“Sulphuric acid is a corrosive substance, harmful to the skin, eyes, teeth, and lungs. Severe exposure can lead to blindness and even death,” warned Dr Rungruang Kitphati, director-general of the department. He added that measures are being taken to mitigate the impact. Thai authorities have liaised with Lao officials to release water from the Xayaburi dam in Laos to dilute the chemicals and lessen the effects downstream in Thailand.

Health officials are currently informing residents in the seven provinces on ways to protect themselves from the chemicals. If any contact with the contaminated water occurs, immediate medical attention is advised.

The Provincial Waterworks Authority’s Nakhon Phanom office, led by director Paitoon Suthamma, confirmed that the water in the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom remains unaffected by the contamination. “The production of water supply [from the Mekong River] has not been affected. The quality of water still meets safety standards”, reported Bangkok Post

The office will persistently monitor the water quality and keep residents updated on the situation. However, as the accident site is distant from Nakhon Phanom, precautionary measures are in place to prevent any unforeseen emergencies.

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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