THE Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has denied that its power plants, particularly Mae Moh plant in northern Lampang province, triggered the smog in Bangkok in recent day, INN News reported today (Feb. 12).
Wathiphantrianucha Palkawong Na Ayutthaya, EGAT’s deputy director for community relations and environment, said the increase of fine particulate matter in Bangkok was due to fluctuating weather.
On Thursday Feb. 8 air particles of 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) reached 69-94 micrograms per cubic meter in the metropolis, with the Pollution Control Department’s safety standard being 50 micrograms while the World Health Organization advises 25 micrograms.
He added that EGAT has been operating its power plants with environment measures in place and there are also laws governing all aspects of its operation.
EGAT has been checking the air quality at fixed intervals, including the smoke stacks which are checked for fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead and heavy metal levels.
According to Wikipedia.com, the 2,400 MW lignite-fueled power plant at Mae Moh has been the target of a series of lawsuits brought by locals who claim that the lignite mining operation and the burning of lignite fuel by EGAT has negatively impacted the environment and the health of those living in the vicinity.
A 12-year fight by villagers for compensation for damages ended in victory for the plaintiffs in February 2015. The Supreme Administrative Court in Chiang Mai Province upheld a ruling by the Chiang Mai Administrative Court in 2005. The court handed down a verdict ordering EGAT to pay compensation to 131 plaintiffs, some of them deceased. Plant victims were awarded between 20,000-240,000 baht each, commensurate with their suffering. The total amounts to 25 million baht plus 7.5% interest.
Several days earlier, the court had ordered EGAT to return its Mae Moh golf course, adjacent to the open pit lignite mine, to woodland in order to help clean up the air pollution caused by EGAT’s Mae Moh operations.
Coal-fired power plants such as Mae Moh can release up to 150 million tonnes of CO2 over their design life of 20-25 years, according to Greenpeace-Thailand.
Top: Heavy smog cloaks Bangkok last week. Photo: INN News