Court orders Egat to clean up Mae Moh

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) should pay compensation to local people suffering from air pollution from the Mae Moh coal-fired power plant in Lampang province, said a Supreme Administrative court judge.

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The Egat should also come up with plans to rehabilitate the environment in areas affected by the power plant, Judge Sumeth Deuisres who is in charge of the Mae Moh pollution case, said yesterday.

He was giving his opinion at the end of the case's hearing, which was filed by a group of Mae Moh villagers affected by pollution from the power plant.

The judge said studies confirmed the plant polluted the area, so the operator should be responsible and must compensate those affected.

He said the Egat had failed to curb sulphur dioxide emissions as reports showed only two of eight sulphur dioxide filters at the power plant were working in 2008, resulting in excessive amounts of the toxic substance being released into the air and affecting peoples' health.

The judge said the Egat should compensate all 28 plaintiffs with payments ranging from 10,000 baht to 330,000 baht, depending on impact severity.

Compensation should be paid within 60 days after the court verdict.

Mr Sumet issued his opinion on another case, also involving the Mae Moh power plant. In this case, 203 plaintiffs filed a complaint to 11 defendants, including the Department of Primary Industries and Mines for alleged negligence in ensuring Egat alleviated air pollution and environmental impacts.

The plaintiff also sued Egat for not enacting impact mitigation plans as instructed by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning.

The judge said the Egat should complete mitigation projects such as installing a water-spraying device to stop dust from spreading, evacuating communities living within 5km of the plant to safer places, and changing coal transport methods.

Maliwan Nakwiroj, a Mae Moh community leader, said Egat should understand the people's grievances and solve the problem as Mae Moh people and the power plant have to live together.

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