Monday, September 1, 2014

Thailand totters towards waste crisis

Bangkok Post via AFP: A blaze at a vast rubbish dump home to six million tonnes of putrefying trash and toxic effluent has kindled fears that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis.

Locals had long pressed for the closure of the foul-smelling Praeksa landfill site, which is wedged between a cluster of industrial estates on the fringes of Bangkok. But a ferocious eight-day fire that cloaked the eastern suburbs of the capital in poisonous smoke earlier this year thrust Praeksa to the heart of a national debate over rubbish.

Bangkok produces around 10,000 tonnes of waste a day, a substantial portion of the 27 million tonnes generated each year across the kingdom. The ruling military regime has put waste disposal high on its to-do list, recognising that poorly regulated pits are filling quickly and prone to disaster.

Experts warn that dumps are time bombs for the environment and the increasing number of communities forced to live cheek-by-jowl with them. Open dumping "offers a quick and easy solution in the short run," the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific said in a study, warning of severe environmental problems and long-term health issues caused by contaminated water and land.

Of Thailand's 2,500 open rubbish pits, just a fifth are properly managed, according to the kingdom's Pollution Control Department. The rest are at the mercy of illegal dumping - including of hazardous waste - fires and seepage into nearby land and water systems....

A recycler buying trash door to door in Thailand, shot by Mattes, Wikimedia Commons, public domain 

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