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Nuclear reactor gets govt go-ahead

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BANGKOK (The Nation): The controversial nuclear research reactor project in Nakhon Nayok has been given the construction go-ahead. This is despite the environmental impact assessment (EIA) not yet having been completed, and the safety analysis report having been rejected by a key committee. The National Commission on Atomic Energy for Peace yesterday approved the research project, to be built in the province’s Ongkharak district. Suwit Khunkitti, deputy prime minister and chairman of the relevant committee, said the project was necessary since it would conduct research and development in nuclear technology for the country’s benefit. “The commission today does not [any longer need to] discuss the environmental impact of the project. We believe the sub-committee [on nuclear safety] has carefully studied the impact. That is why we approved the construction,” said Suwit. The 3.55-billion-baht project has faced a series of hurdles since it was first proposed in 1989, and has met stiff opposition from residents near the site and environmentalists. It has also faced trouble from government bodies, since its EIA was twice rejected by the National Environment Board (NEB) and its safety analysis report was rejected by the Nuclear Safety Sub-committee. Only in July, the NEB reported to the Cabinet that the EIA contained out-of-date information and did not provide an assessment of the possible effects of a disaster, including earthquakes. The project is located in a fault zone. The approval for construction of the 10-megawatt research reactor came a day after Suwit, Science Minister Pinij Charusombat, and the secretary-general of the Office of Atomic Energy for Peace (OAEP), Kriengkorn Petchabutr, had lunch together. Kriengkorn, who reaches retirement age tomorrow, claimed however that the project should have no safety problems since it had been approved by the Argone National Laboratory in the US. The Argone laboratory is a US Department of Energy facility operated by the University of Chicago. However, Argone approval is unacceptable to some members of the Nuclear Safety Sub-committee who argue that the lab has no legal authority to approve a safety analysis report for any nuclear-reactor construction project. Kriengkorn added that completing the EIA would not prove to be a stumbling block. He claimed that the OAEP would succeed in providing the required information to the NEB and get the EIA approved very soon. “The project is now ready for construction,” he added. Yesterday’s approval upset environmentalists such as Santi Chokechaichamnarnkit of the Campaign for Alternative Energy. “For me the approval is unjustified and should not have happened, since the EIA and the safety analysis haven’t been approved yet,” he said. Science Minister Pinij excluded himself from the decision of the National Commission on Atomic Energy for Peace. “Frankly, I do not have any authority to make decisions on the project. Everything is under the consideration of Deputy Prime Minister Suwit,” he said. Kriengkorn said the OAEP had not yet set a construction schedule. He added that General Atomic, a US-based construction company, would be responsible for building the facility. The nuclear research project was first proposed by the Chatchai Choonhavan administration in 1989. The project – which won government approval in 1992 – has always been controversial, facing strong opposition from local residents and environmentalists alike. Its environmental impact assessment report has twice been rejected by the National Environment Board, most recently in July. Its safety analysis report was also rejected by the Nuclear Safety Sub-committee (NSS). The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission also refused to approve the safety report, whereupon the OAEP sought approval from the Argone Laboratory. The OAEP signed a contract in 1998 with GA to design, construct and operate the reactor. The contract expired three years ago, and GA demanded the OAEP pay 900 million baht in compensation. No payment has been made.

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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