Thailand--Follow Up to Poison Gas Leak at Petrochemical Company : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Leak firm to face charges--Families of victims file police complaint

March 11, 2000

Relatives of gas leak victims have filed charges against Thai Polycarbonate Co, Rayong police said.

The leakage of carbonyl chloride at the petrochemical company's facility on Sunday killed a worker and caused illness in more than 200 people. Pol Lt-Col Pradit Yaemsang, inspector of Huai Pong, said police were still determining whether the leak was an accident or negligence.

Experts had been summoned to assist in the investigation.

Doctors at Map Ta Phud hospital are keeping a close watch on Prasert Tangthong, who is on life support and in critical condition.

Six of the company's employees have been released but another 14 continue to receive treatment at the hospital.

There are another 55 patients in four separate local hospitals.

Kasemsri Homchuen, Map Ta Phud Industrial Estate manager, said the company needed to redesign its system to ensure that such a disaster would not be repeated.

However, she insisted the company's safety measures, which include double-coated pipes, were "up to the standard" required by the industrial estate authority.

"This was an accident," she said.

Ms Kasemsri admitted the same poison gas was used by another petrochemical firm in tambon Map Ta Phud.

She refused to name the company, saying it was sited in an industrial estate and that she had confidence in its safety measures, which included triple-coated pipes.

"Actually, there's nothing wrong with double-coated pipes.

"They are different technologies," she said.


-- (, March 10, 2000


Here is the original story from Bangkok Post, March 8:

Poison gas sickens 200--Workers exposed to chemical war agent

A leak of a gas used as a lethal chemical weapon in World War One has put 200 workers from a petrochemicals plant in hospital.

At least one worker, identified as Pongpitak Neeranet was in intensive care at Bamrungrat hospital in Rayong from the effects of the leak at the Thai Polycarbonate Co plant in the Map Ta Phut industrial estate.

Mr Pongpitak is suffering pulmonary edema, a condition linked to a high level of water in the lungs and is on life support, doctors said.

The worker was among the first exposed to carbonyl chloride, a toxic, colourless gas also known as phosgene, which leaked after a hose ruptured. The gas is deadly if inhalation is prolonged.

Some 200 people in the Chakklang community, 3km from the estate, fled their homes to avoid poisoning.

Amnat Sa-ngasil, a co-ordinator of the Rayong Environmental Network, said: "They vomited, their eyes and throats became irritated."Most of the victims were later released although 63 remained at four local hospitals-38 at Bamrungrat, 11 at Map Ta Phut, eight at Rayong and six at Ban Chang.

The mother of a woman who was listed as stable in Rayong hospital said she had been told the poisoning might cause chronic lung problems.

She said the family moved from Kamphaeng Phet six years ago when her husband found work at the plant. "We used to think the move was worthwhile," she said. "Now we're having second thoughts."The company, she said, had halved welfare following the economic crisis. "We wish we could go home but we still have money problems."The woman said her rented house was butted against the factory's fence and a chemical smell was common but never so strong as on Monday night.

Another gas victim, Sumalee Kaewlamoon, said she was resting in her house when "suddenly, there was chemical smell and I became short of breath. I was so scared and rushed outside. Had I stayed longer, I do not think I could hold on."Local environmentalists are considering legal action against the industrial estate for damage to local people's health, Mr Amnat said.

"After the estate was established, more people became ill more frequently," said Mr Amnat. "I don't think we need more factories but better control is needed for the existing ones."


-- (, March 10, 2000.

This is the kind of mishap that was widely predicted for U.S. chemical plants prior to y2k, which, to date, have not happened. I hope this is not predicting any kind of trend development.

-- Uncle Fred (, March 11, 2000.

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