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MWA declares city tap water free of toxins

Posted by arnon_k On October - 20 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority has declared tap water in the capital safe after failing to find hazardous chemicals that may have leaked from inundated industrial parks in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani.

MWA governor Charoen Passara said yesterday laboratory tests had found no significant amounts of harmful chemicals or heavy metals in the raw water that is supplied to households and businesses in Bangkok.

“We are trying our best to prevent floodwaters from mixing with clean water destined for taps. That is our main concern. We might face some problems, but we can cope with it because we experienced the worst case in 1995,” Mr Charoen said. He was referring to heavy floods in Bangkok in which floodwaters flowed into a raw water canal, reducing the oxygen level in the water.

His Majesty the King donated a wind turbine from his Chai Pattana Foundation to help increase the oxygen levels in the water.

The MWA has reinforced sandbag barriers to prevent floodwaters from Rangsit canal from flowing into the raw water canal used by the agency to produce tap water.

All pumping stations are heavily guarded to prevent flooding. The MWA has stockpiled chemicals such as chlorine, alum and activated carbon to treat the raw water.

In case of emergency, the office can take water from the Mae Klong River to produce tap water if the Chao Phraya River becomes contaminated, he said.

Jongkolnee Arsuwate, director of the MWA’s Water Quality Office, said the agency was not worried about chemical contamination because any chemicals would be diluted in the water. But disease-led elements are a major concern.

“What worries us is the prospect of E.coli bacteria coming with the flood. Our laboratory tests show no signs of E.coli. But it is something we have to monitor.

“Hazardous chemical levels we have detected are 300 times lower than safety standards,”she said.

The office regularly tests for heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, zinc and copper, cancer-producing chemicals and the E.coli bacteria.

Worasart Apaipong, acting chief of the Department of Pollution Control, said most hazardous chemicals stocked in the industrial parks hit by flooding were transferred to safe places before the floods.

But some are in the industrial parks and the department has asked for cooperation from the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand to keep them inside the plants.

He said the department had set up a chemical response team to deal with chemical leaks. The team has collected samples from five industrial parks in Ayutthaya that are under water.

Lab results are expected within days. The team will collect samples at plants in the Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani this week.

Moon River bursts banks

Posted by arnon_k On October - 20 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Fields inundated after sandbag barrier fails

The Moon River burst its banks and inundated more than 2,000 rai of rice paddy in Non Sung district of Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday.

Villagers, soldiers and officials had raced to fill sandbags and build a flood wall along Khok Phra-Lam Moon Road in Non Sung district to prevent water from the river from inundating the paddy fields, but they were too late.

The road was submerged and the water poured across the farmland. No immediate estimate of the damage was available, but 200 families were affected.

The flooding covered rice paddy in five of the district’s tambons _ Lam Moon, Jan-ad, Muang Prasart, Tharn Prasart, Bing and Don Chompu.

The paddy was about to be harvested when the floods struck. A 500-metre section of Khok Phra-Lam Moon Road was also submerged by floodwater making the road impassable to small vehicles.

Non Sung assistant district chief Kritsanathorn Lerdsamrong said more than 200 households in the flood-hit tambons were affected.

The Nakhon Ratchasima governor declared the areas disaster zones.

Authorities were providing assistance to flood victims.

A huge volume of rainfall and water discharged from four large reservoirs in the province caused the water level in the Moon River to rise sharply and overflow, he said.

Meanwhile, in Surin, the provincial irrigation office yesterday began draining water from the overflowing Huay Saneng reservoir in Muang district which was causing flooding on part of Surin-Buri Ram Highway No 226.

A 30-50 metre section of the road around kilometre 3 was under water. Motorists travelling along the road were told to take extra care.

Japan suffers worst industry loss overseas

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Ambassador hands out relief bags to victims

Japan has experienced its largest overseas investment loss ever as a result of the flood disaster in Thailand, the country’s ambassador to Thailand Seiji Kojima said yesterday.

The flooding had hit Japanese automobile and electrical products manufacturing facilities hard, he said.

Tokyo hopes the Thai government will be able to control the situation as soon as possible, Mr Kojima said.

“I think this is the biggest loss for Japan’s overseas investment,” he said. “Hundreds of Japanese companies are now under water. We cannot calculate the losses until the floods recede.

“We don’t know when the affected companies can resume operations. We have to wait until the flood recedes and then it will take more time for the companies to fix their damaged equipment.”

The Japanese ambassador yesterday visited a flood evacuation centre at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Ladkrabang in Bangkok’s Lat Krabang district. The delegation also visited Ladkrabang Industrial Estate, which houses 49 Japanese factories.

Mr Kojima said the Japanese government was closely watching how the government handles the flooding and wants to see if it can provide clear, accurate information to overseas investors.

“After all, we respect the Thai government’s decision in dealing with the problem,” he said.

Despite significant losses caused by the floods, Mr Kojima said there was no need to withdraw any investments from the country.

At least 400 Japanese factories have been inundated in six industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani. They are Rojana Industrial Park, where 147 Japanese plants were damaged, Saha Rattana Nakorn (35), Bang Pa-in (30), Factoryland (5), Hi-Tech (about 100) and Nava Nakorn (104).

Mr Kojima yesterday handed over relief bags to flood victims seeking shelter at the evacuation centre, which is home to about 400 people.

He said he was confident Ladkrabang Industrial Estate would be spared as each company had built up effective flood prevention measures.

Prakit Chunhacha, director of Thai Honda Manufacturing at the estate, said the company had built flood barriers and installed more than 35 water pumps to drain out water.

The plant has temporarily closed and is expected to resume operations tomorrow if the situation improves.

Nut Sumrejwanishya, Bangkok councillor for Lat Krabang, said floodwater in the district should not exceed 30 centimetres and the water should drain out to sea quickly. He insisted the industrial estate would not be flooded, even though the government plans to drain floodwater from the north to the sea through eastern Bangkok.

Masato Otaka, economic minister at the Japanese embassy, told the Bangkok Post Japan was saddened after learning the week-long effort to safeguard Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani had failed.

“We are also sad for the Thai people who have been suffering from months of flooding, but the industrial estates are very important as they support the livelihoods of several hundreds of thousands of families,” he said.

Of the 190 companies located inside Nava Nakorn, 104 are Japanese.

“We are not angry that the Thai government could not prevent the flooding,” Mr Otaka said. “We are just sad that we could not prevent the industrial estates from being so severely affected. But we have to thank all local volunteers, including villagers and the army.”

Floods wash over another industrial compound

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

The Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani has become the latest casualty of flooding as some parts of the estate have been hit by northern runoff, prompting the government to issue immediate evacuation alerts for workers and nearby residents.

Torrents of northern runoff yesterday breached an embankment in the north of the industrial estate near Khlong Chiang Rak, submerging more than 10 manufacturing plants.

Workers and nearby residents were caught off guard by the floods and tried to flee to safety, causing heavy traffic congestion on Phahon Yothin Road in front of the industrial estate.

More than 500 workers and authorities were struggling to fix the broken floodwall to prevent water spreading further to the inner areas of the estate.

Located in tambon Khlong Nueng in Khlong Luang district, the estate is home to 227 manufacturing plants covering more than 8,000 rai, with more than 180,000 workers. Investment in the estate is valued at more than 100 billion baht.

Nava Nakorn is the sixth industrial estate hit by runoff sweeping down from the North which has already wreaked havoc on the other five major industrial estates in Ayutthaya.

Government flood relief centre spokesman Wim Rungwattanajinda said that 90% of the industrial estate area was shielded from floods, although the rest of the area has already been swamped, with more than 10 manufacturing plants under 1.5 to 2 metres of water.

Mr Wim stressed that evacuations were necessary as the industrial estate was still vulnerable to rising floodwater.

He urged factories in the industrial estate to suspend operations and told workers and residents in and around the estate to evacuate in seven hours.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ordered the armed forces to mobilise personnel and resources to try to drain water out of the flooded areas.

Containers were also airlifted by helicopters to shield the remainder of the industrial estate area.

Mr Wim said the Chao Phraya River’s levels had begun to drop, enabling more water to divert to the river through Khlong Chiang Rak Noi and Khlong Sam Khok.

Sluice gates in Khlong Chiang Rak Noi and Khlong Saraphan were also opened to speed drainage to protect water from entering Thammasat University Rangsit Campus, while a sluice gate in Khlong Chiang Rak Yai was opened to shield Rangsit from flooding.

Mr Wim said Ms Yingluck had also ordered concerned authorities to strengthen the Chulalongkorn watergate, reinforce dykes at Khlong Nueng and Khlong Prem Prachakorn to ensure that runoff does not reach inner Bangkok.

Opas Phetmunee, director of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, said 200 buses were ready to evacuate people from the flooded areas of the estate.

Ms Yingluck said the combination of high tides, heavy rainfall and run-off sweeping down from upstream provinces was too much for the floodwall to resist.

Ms Yingluck said she will call a meeting this afternoon to assess the extent of damage and to discuss preventive measures if floodwaters reach Bangkok’s Don Muang and Sai Mai districts.

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