A lawyer representing Karen villagers in lower Klity Creek in Kanchanaburi’s Thong Pha Phum district, who have suffered lead poisoning since the 1990s, said yesterday the Pollution Control Department (PCD) had ignored a Supreme Administrative Court order to rehabilitate the creek.

The lawyer also revealed that the Mineral Resources Department plans to re-open three nearby mines closed since 2002 after the lead contamination scandal in lower Klity Creek was exposed in 1998. He urged the department “not to revive the ghost of lead mines in Thong Pha Phum area” – or it would have to pay for lead contamination damages too.

In his capacity as the villagers’ lawyer, Surapong Kongchantuk, head of the Lawyers’ Council’s Human Rights Subcommittee on Ethnic Minorities, the Stateless, Migrant Workers and Displaced Persons, urged Pollution Control officials to implement the court’s January 10 ruling, at a press conference yesterday.

The department, he said, should have a working plan and methods to rehabilitate the creek so it is lead-free. He urged them to do at least a one-year follow-up – analyse samples of water, soil, vegetables and fresh-water creatures at least once per season until the lead amount no longer exceeds safety standards.

He said the rehabilitation plan and procedure should have been posted as an announcement at the Klity Village headman’s office at Tambon Chalae Administrative Organisation to notify villagers within 90 days of the court’s ruling, but nothing happened.

“The PCD must speedily rehabilitate Klity Creek to be lead-free because the Supreme Administrative Court gave its ruling on January 10… they also ignored the villagers’ request for it to dig out lead residue in the creek and cleanse it within three years.”

He said if the state agency didn’t do anything within 30 days, Klity villagers would ask the senior court to officially order the department to do this again.

Surapong said villagers were worried because, while the PCD dragged its feet, the Mineral Resources Department had hired Chulalongkorn University academics to conduct a study at Thong Pha Phum’s Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary to make way for a concession to reopen the nearby Kemco, Bor Yai and Krerng Kravia mines that had been closed since 2002.

“We have clear evidence that Kemco Mine and Bor Yai Mine discharged waste into Dinso Creek, causing lead contamination there and this creek flows into Saiyoke River (Kwai Noi), while Klity Mine, Bor Ngam Mine and some part of Kemco Mine discharged waste into Sri Sawat River (Kwai Yai), which is the origin of Mae Khlong River, and that is the key source of tap water for Bangkokians living in Thon Buri area,” he said.

Information: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Villagers-want-creek-cleaned-up-before-more-mines–30206908.html