After struggling for seven years with a foetid stink from a garbage disposal site, officers from the Chalong Krung police station in Lat Krabang district have at last been given a reprieve – an office far away from the dump.
The police officers did not just suffer from the foul odour, which drove many to seek a transfer or settle for an early retirement, but were also exposed to four key carcinogenic substances, Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said.
He explained that exposure to these four substances caused a combination of nausea, vomiting, sore throat, dizziness and irritation to the respiratory system, while some people became extremely weak and also sustained damage to the central nervous system. People living nearby have also complained about health problems and the stench.
The location near the garbage site has taken a toll on many police officers, including Pol Senior Sgt-Major Suphachai Narksuk, 53, who had to retire after developing Parkinson’s Disease.
According to doctors, he had contracted the disease prematurely and it developed at an alarming rate due to his exposure to the garbage.
The non-commissioned officer said he felt better now that he has retired, adding that he suffered every time he visited the station to meet his friends. “My eyes and nostrils burn every time I go back there,” he said.
The temporary Chalong Krung police station will occupy 550-square metres in the Lat Krabang industrial estate. This office, to be completed in two weeks, will be located at the estate for six months before the location of a permanent office is designated. However, the Chalong Krung police station’s jurisdiction remains the same.
Senior police officer Lt-Colonel Atthaphan Watcharapantree said he was concerned about the long-term welfare of the residents in the area because no measures had been put in place to contain the leaks and the odour.
Meanwhile, Surawit and officials from related agencies visited the police station and the garbage disposal site on Monday. A Bangkok Metropolitan Administration concessionaire operates the 300-rai wide and 100m deep site, and the odour is the strongest after rain, when the humidity is high and allows the particles of toxic substances linger in the air.
Despite being a landfill site, the odour stemming from biological and chemical combustion can be unbearable. In addition, occasional fires break out either from combustion or are set off by scavengers who burn power chords for copper.
Surawit said the site would soon be fenced off to keep away scavengers and the site would be covered with gravel to minimise the stench and stop combustion-caused fires. BMA mobile air-quality monitoring units will also be monitoring the area constantly, he added.