Stopping a public health disaster
The Nation; editorial, Fri, January 26, 2007
The Industry Ministry took decisive action on Wednesday to try to contain the environmental crisis in Map Ta Phut of Rayong [Thailand] in response to
growing evidence that there is a correlation between industrial activity and serious health problems afflicting local residents. The move followed the
latest public scare after health experts released findings of their studies suggesting that pollution caused by the emission of noxious gases from the
Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, home to the company's single-largest petrochemical-industrial complex, may have contributed to a higher-than-usual
incidence of leukaemia.Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
This is a banal story about pollution and its heath threats to residents having to live with it. It is not different in example from similar events on
hundreds of thousand --possibly millions-- of locations all over the world.
But I lived 5 months at the location in mention, so I can say I know.
Map Ta Phut is on the Eastern seaboard of the Golf of Thailand, an industrial estate layed out by the government to create jobs and draw investments,
and has been operating since 1990.
What makes it interesting, it is a candidate to "World's Worst Polluted Places," the Blacksmith Institute list published annually.
Map Ta Phut is a 176,000-acre industrial zone located in the province of Rayong, about 137 miles by road from Bangkok. Originally a sleepy
fishing and agricultural community on the Gulf of Thailand, its bay made it attractive for docking deep-sea vessels used in the transport of natural
gas. In the 70's, Map Ta Phut was designated by the government as a future home for Thailand's petrochemical and heavy industries. Today, there are
around 104 factories in the area.
Pollutants: Heavy Metals, Organic Pollutants
Transmission: air, water, soil
Source: Petrochemical Industries
Number of potentially affected people: 31,000
The awareness of the health riscs were highlighted in 1997 when a mass case occured on a school close to the chemical compounds, with dozens who fell
In 1998 the National Cancer Institute of Thailand (NCI) conducted surveys of cancer mortality rates in the area, but has kept them unpublished until
A second report is about due for release, rating the deaths 2002-2005. If it shows increasing levels compared to the first report, which was bad
enough, it should go on red, cause the first one rendered conditions so unacceptable, that nobody have dared to react upon them for nine years.
The data observations in the study, could explain why it has been tried to kept covered.
Showing a cancer rate for the location of 182 per 100k, 50% over world average.
Sneekview hints from the upcoming report suggests something is badly wrong. Like the cancer rate might have soared further.
The 1998 study unwillingly comes up with a suggestion, as to the high mortality .
It conducted tests on 81 estate workers, 71 residents and 50 people from other districts in Rayong.
It found the "DNA adducts" ratio in industrial complex workers and nearby residents was 1.9 and 1.4 times higher greater than that in people not
living in the estate.
The difference in ratio between the two exposed groups was not statistically significant.
How can an occurence of anything 40-90% more than the control group not be "statistically significant"??
To sum up facts: Cancer research body had revealed high carcinogen
levels in residents as far back as 1998
-- but they didn't tell before now, nine years later, about seriuos DNA damages.
"Our results suggest occupational and environmental exposures experienced in industrialised areas of Thailand might entail an increased level of
DNA adducts," a
research summary obtained by The Nation said.
The results did not identify the agents responsible for the increased levels.
DNA damage caused by carcinogens - or DNA adducts - occurs when compounds attach themselves to DNA molecules.
I would liked to have included a picture of the eastate, preferably its silhuet dark and diabolic, spewing fire and poison to the inviroment. I lived
2-3 miles from its bounderies, and if I walked up the road I could see it like that. No matter the view, I could always hear it, the roaring from the
gas flames burning all the time, would never silence.
I could not find any such image (have to do it myself) but I found a picture of what should be from the building of a sphere there, "amongst the
largest and heaviest spheres to be build worldwide".
What I find interesting about it is the staging.
--Note, it is made out of rafts, the way they do scaffolds in those part of the world.
Together with poor inviromental regulations and cheap labour, why it pays off--
Power, petrochem plans put on hold
Deaths blamed on Map Ta Phut
WHO help to be sought on Map Ta Phut
Activists arrested for trying to block unloading of coal
[edit on 5-2-2007 by khunmoon]
[edit on 5-2-2007 by khunmoon]