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Suspected hazardous dumping draws probe
Bangkok Post, 3rd July 2012

A team will be set up to investigate 96 waste disposal factories that are suspected of dumping illegally.

The 30-member team will finish the investigations within one month, says Industrial Works Department (DIW) director-general Prapat Vanapitak.

Factories that dispose of waste illegally will be subject to penalties, including fines and the shutdown of the facility.

The move came after reports of harmful and illegal wastewater dumping at Samut Prakan's Bang Pu Industrial Estate.

Mr Prapat said the factories suspected of illegal dumping are mostly located in Bangkok and surrounding provinces as well as in Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri and Rayong.

Thailand has a total of 136 general waste treatment plants, 1,209 industrial waste landfills and 395 recycling plants located outside industrial estates.

There are 39 plants located in industrial estates, which are under the supervision of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand.

Sukda Punkla, director of the DIW Industrial Cluster 1 Bureau, said the 96 factories were chosen based on their capacity to handle waste. Most of them deal with hazardous landfills and hazardous recycling.

"For instance, if a factory indicates a certain capacity per day, we will check whether it is able to process it in reality," said Mr Sukda.

The DIW is also in the process of drafting measures requiring waste transporters to install global positioning systems (GPS) on their vehicles in order to monitor the waste and determine whether it ends up in the right place.

Thailand produces a total of 3.5 million tonnes of hazardous waste and 23.5 million tonnes of non-hazardous waste per year, about 50% of which is processed legally.

In a related development, a total of 1,727 factories were set up during the first six months of this year, 452 fewer than in the same period last year. The investment value of 58.6 billion baht was down by almost half.

Industry Minister M.R. Pongsvas Svasti brushed aside the figures as a slight drop and predicted a rebound during the second half of the year, especially from Japanese investors.

The European debt crisis "will affect existing production capacity where companies need to seek new markets, but in terms of investment there are many other factors" to consider, he said.