Pattaya Daily News

15 November 2012 :: 14:11:22 pm 68528

Divers Meet Their Doom In Toxic Thai Sea

Three fishermen were poisoned by chemical pollutants after diving for fish and shellfish off the Map Ta Phut Industrial port near Rayong. Their skins and hair began turning white and they lost weight and energy. Doctors are unable to pinpoint the toxic substance that damaged their bodies.
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SATTAHIP – November 14, 2012 [Pattaya Daily News]; at 1 pm., a reporter was attending a conference on environmental health at the Star Hotel in Rayong. Participants were discussing the second expansion of the facilities of PTT Phenol Co. Ltd, an industrial factory that produces the product Phenol.

There the reporter met a victim of toxic pollution in the ocean. The 25-year-old man had mottled white spots all over his body, and his hair had turned prematurely white. His name was Mr. Karan Charoenwongtrakul, and he lived inTambon Pla in Amphur Muang, Rayong province. So the reporter asked him what had caused the mysterious symptoms.

Mr. Karan said that on April 2010, he had dove with two other Laotian friends around an artificial coral reef near the port of Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate. They were catching fish and shellfish from the reef. But when they came up from the sea. Mr. Karan noticed that there was a big stain of oil on his skin. Shortly after that, his skin became covered with white spots, which expanded until his entire body was a mottled white color. Even his hair turned white.

So Mr. Karan went to see the doctor of skin disease at Sirirat hospital, Ratchavithee hospital, Queen Sirikit hospital to diagnose his symptoms. The lab results of his blood tests and other diagnostic tests indicated the cause was from the chemical substance in the ocean, but the tests could not prove what type of chemical it was.

The doctor also suggested that another cause of the abnormal coloring of pigment cells might be genetic. However, Mr. Karan said that there is no one in his family who had this disease before, so it should not be hereditary.

Mr. Karan said the cause had to be from a toxic chemical substance encountered during the dive, because his two Laotian friends also had the same symptoms. But his friends became ashamed of their condition, and they escaped back to Laos and didn’t come back to Thailand any more.

Mr. Karan also became thinner and lost weight, and he could not work as hard as before. He was also treated as a social outcast. People were afraid that he had an infectious disease, so no one dared to come close to him. Eventually his wife also escaped from Mr. Karan, and left him to stay alone.

However, one person sympathetic to his plight was Mrs. Prapai Sathitvittaya, age 55, the secretary of group of small fishing boat owners in Baan Pla, Amphur Baan Chang, Rayong province.

After she learned about Mr. Karan’s strange disease, she brought him to see another doctor. He diagnosed the cause as exposure to a chemical substance released into the sea from a factory in the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate. But no company took responsibility for releasing the toxic pollutant.

However, a few companies expressed slight concern about the pollution issue. So Mrs. Prapai is requesting that the group of industries at Map Ta Phut set up a health fund for the industry workers as well as nearby area residents, in order to take care of people impacted by environment pollution from their toxic chemicals and waste. Currently, only one power plant has such a fund, she said.

Reporter : Nattaphummint   Photo : Nattaphummint   Category : Community News

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