Thai potash mine disaster: Unseen contamination taints 10,000 rai of land

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Analysis from the Synchrotron Light Research Institute (SLRI) has found a worrying degree of contamination on a significant amount of agricultural land adjacent to a potash mine in Nakhon Ratchasima. As per the analysis, over 10,000 rai of land has been tainted with sodium chloride and potassium chloride.

The firm holding the operating rights to the mine, Thai Kali Co, has a leasing agreement that extends until 2040 and spans roughly 9,000 rai. The mine stretches across the tambons of Nong Bua Takiat, Nong Sai, and Non Mueang Pattana in the Dan Khun Thot district.

Protest from approximately 150 farmers in June served as a spark to the situation. The disgruntled agricultural workers claimed that the wastewater emanating from the mine had seeped into their farms, tainting natural water resources and infusing the soil with high salinity levels. As a result, the cultivation of rice and other staple crops became a challenge.

The multitude of grievances led to a petition towards Governor Sayam Sirimongkol on June 27. Villagers demanded a shutdown of the mine, which eventually led to a temporary cessation of mining operations at the location awaiting further inspection by state authorities.

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The director of the Office of Environment and Pollution Control 11 (OEPC11), Thanachai Wansuk, confirmed the samples of soil delivered to SLRI contained hazardous levels of sodium chloride and potassium chloride, yesterday.

The test results are to be dispatched to the governor and the creation of a working group is imminent to assess the extent of the damage inflicted on the farmlands. A fair compensation is then expected to be brokered, as elaborated by Thanachai Wansuk.

Supakorn Rakmai, head of SLRI’s light transport utilisation and operation department, further supplemented that trace amounts of heavy metals have been discovered in addition to the excessive presence of sodium chloride and potassium chloride, reported Bangkok Post.

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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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