InterviewAPIC ’09: Mab Ta Phut needs 'practical' environment standards

15 May 2009 12:38  [Source: ICIS news]

By Bohan Loh

SEOUL (ICIS news)--The environmental standards set for the newly declared ‘pollution control zone’ of Mab Ta Phut must be practical and within what current technology allows for, said the chairman of an industry association on Friday.

“The governor of Rayong together with his committee will have to work out practical control measures,” Supachai Watanangura of the Federation of Thai Industries, Petrochemical Industry Club (FTIPC) told ICIS news on the sidelines of the 9th Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC ’09).

“They must have the technology, equipment and procedures to measure the level of contamination. At the moment, we have not reached such a level," he said.

“There is still a lot of work to be done at this point,” he added.

Thailand’s Mab Ta Phut industrial estate – a major production site for chemical giants such as PTT Group and the Siam Cement Group (SCG) – had been declared a pollution-control zone by the Rayong Administrative Court in the first week of March.

This was in response to a petition filed by health and pollution control officials who said area residents were at risk from pollution and industrial waste-related accidents.

A defined set of environmental standards that companies must adhere to would need to be drawn up by the governor of Rayong and his committee members, including participation from the local community, within six months of the declaration.

Watanangura noted that all approved projects and existing plants in Mab Ta Phut had received environmental impact assessment (EIA) certification before the declaration of the industrial estate as a ‘pollution control zone’.

“The EIA is recognised internationally as being practical and also effective in pollution control. That process has been very detailed where a panel of experts would have assessed the environment impact of a project before it is passed on to the board to be approved,” he said

Watanangura also said that there had been no delays to ongoing projects in Mab Ta Phut as a result of the declaration.

ICIS news had previously been told that the plants and ongoing projects of PTT and its affiliates adhered to EIA standards and that no delays were expected to the company’s seventh gas separation plant and phase II petrochemical project.

Thai conglomerate SCG’s plants and projects adhere to emission standards set by the EU, according to the company.

Meanwhile, Watanangura said he expected the export market towards the mainland to shrink as capacity start-ups from this year through 2017 dramatically increase the olefins and polyolefins self-sufficiency of China.

“But we are going to compete, like we do everywhere else in the world. Where there is a possibility to sell, we will try to compete,” he said.

“I think we have reasonable competitive edge in relation to the size of our crackers and industry. Our investment costs, labour and fixed costs are not as high. But we lose out on the logistics and raw materials front. But whatever happens, we will have to compete,” he added.

The two-day APIC '09 concluded on Friday.

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By: Bohan Loh
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