Villagers rally against power plant

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Villagers-rally-against-power-plant-30217398.html

Locals say coal-powered project will affect their health, mango orchards

Hundreds of villagers from Chachoengsao yesterday rallied at a state environmental agency, demanding that the government not give the go-ahead for a coal-power plant as they believe it would affect their health, and their mango orchards badly.

They gathered at the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) and handed over a petition with more than 6,000 signatures opposing the project to ONEP’s deputy secretary-general Noppadol Thiyajai. These signatures were collected via a campaign by Change.org.

The move come after an ONEP environmental expert panel met for a second time to deliberate on the environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) report of the 600-megawatt coal power plant in Chachoengsao’s Phanom Sarakham district, which is known for its mangoes.

The EHIA report was first deliberated upon in July last year and this second round was to be the final one. The power plant would be directly connected to the Klong Tha Lart basin – the biggest tributary of Bang Pa Kong River – that provides water for general consumption and irrigation.

Villagers are worried that the coal-powered plant will affect their health and farms, which they say could suffer from mercury contamination.

A 33-year-old alternative farmer Kan Tattiyakul said he was worried the power plant would affect the country’s food supplies as it may stunt the production of agricultural products locally.

Already more than 500 rai of mango orchards are affected by haze from the existing biomass power plant located nearby.

Chonchaya Chanrawin, 33, who is expecting her second child, said she was worried the pollution would affect her three-year-old child.

However, Teerawat Srivikarn from tambon Khao Hin Son said he backed the power plant as the country requires a large amount of electricity for households and for driving the economy.

“It will be acceptable if the firm that runs the project will comply with regulations to cut down on environmental impacts from the plant,” he said.

Apichai Sorpitiporn, deputy managing director of National Power Supply IPP Co, said his company would accept the opinion of all stakeholders.

The project is listed under the 2007 Thailand Power Development Plan.

Noppadol said his agency would deliberate on the report and send its conclusion to the Independent Commission on Environment and Health for recommendation before granting an approval.

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