Toxic smog alert near garbage fire

Toxic smog alert near garbage fire
Toxic smog from a landfill in Samut Prakan is threatening the health of both local residents and people working nearby - and officials believe the fire could burn for another five days.

THAILAND - Caretaker Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk has threatened to file charges against the operator of the landfill. He said details from the provincial industry office showed the 150-rai dump was operated by Kromphol Samutsakhon, under a licence that expired in 2011.

"The operator is liable to charges related to the Factory Act BE2535," Prasert said. He added that if the operator was found guilty, punishment included both a jail term and a fine.

The Public Health Ministry has declared 500 metres on all sides of the site as a "red zone". The amount of sulphur dioxide was more than 5 parts-per-million (ppm), well over the designated standard of 0.2 ppm. All residents in the zone are being asked to evacuate.

While evacuation is underway for residents - firemen, officials and reporters are braving the pollution to carry out their duties. There was speculation that industrial waste from Bang Pu Industrial Estate was dumped at the site. As a result, when the fire broke out on Sunday, it created smoke dangerous to nearby citizens.

Samut Prakan public-health chief Namphol Danpipat said yesterday that people living within 200 metres of the site, as well as firemen or anyone with long exposure to the smog must undergo a medical check.

He said that if the results looked disturbing, these people might also be subject to cancer-risk tests.

"In addition to locals, firemen and reporters on the spot should get health checks at the Samut Prakan Hospital," Pollution Control Department (PCD) director-general Wichian Jungrungreon said.

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