12 killed in Map Ta Phut chemical fire in ThailandBy Bangkok Pundit May 07, 2012 3:49AM UTC
BP has already blogged (here and here) on the Supreme Administrative Court decision in 2009 upholding an injunction against 65 projects at the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate noting that Thailand’s economy will face a significant hit because of the decision. Then another post on the environmental problems at Map Ta Phut.
A fire caused by explosions in one of the world’s largest petrochemical industrial estates has killed 12 and injured more than 100 people in eastern Thailand.
The blaze yesterday forced an evacuation of workers and more than 1,000 residents near the Map Ta Phut industrial estate, Thailand’s largest industrial park, in Rayong province, 110 miles south-east of Bangkok.
Rayong governor Seni Jittakasem said today authorities were investigating the cause of the explosions that occurred when workers were cleaning a chemical tank at Bangkok Synthetics plant, a synthetic rubber manufacturer.
He said all evacuees have returned home.
The fire was put under control after four hours of chemical burning that sent plumes of thick smoke over a wide area.
The Bangkok Post:
Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti said he had ordered the closure of the factory where the explosion occurred. He has also instructed other factories in the industrial estate to recheck their security systems since the operations of more than half of them concern chemicals.
Early today, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visited the industrial estate and met the people injured in the explosion.
Ms. Yingluck has also set up a tripartite committee to examine possible toxic contamination in the area. The committee comprises experts from the Industry Ministry, the Pollution Control Department and representatives from local communties.
Thousands of people in 12 communities around Map Ta Phut were evacuated yesterday.
Reuters has some more, particularly with some details about Bangkok Synthetics:
The Bangkok Synthetics plant, 20-percent owned by Thailand’s largest industrial group, Siam Cement Pcl, produces butadiene and other raw materials used in the manufacturing of synthetic rubbers and plastic resins.
BP: Ok, it is only a 20% ownership, but Siam Cement is a very important and influential Thai company with its largest shareholder being the Crown Property Bureau….BP has already blogged about how Siam Cement were big losers from the initial court decision in 2009, but in early 2010 the Central Administrative Court announced that seven suspended projects in the Map Ta Phut industrial zone can resume construction with 6 out of the 7 projects being Siam Cement ones. Later in 2010, a Thai court ruled that 74 of the 76 industrial projects halted in 2009 because of pollution and licensing concerns can be restarted.
The Stop Global Warming Association, who were involved in the initial 2009 lawsuit, does not seem satisfied with the Minister’s decision to close the factory and has called on the government to revoke the license. The Nation:
“The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) should cancel its licence,” Stop Global Warming Association chairman Srisuwan Janya said.
He pointed out that the disaster was not the first harmful incident at Bangkok Synthetics.
He said in 2009, this company was also responsible for a chemical leak inside the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong.
“The IEAT should consider withdrawing the factory licence of Bangkok Synthetics Company to protect the quality of life of people who live in 30 communities around the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate. If not, it would be an example for other factories to follow this failure,” he said.
BP: This latest incident is likely to bring much further scrutiny on all factories in Map Ta Phut….