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September 13, 2010
Volume 88, Number 37
p. 6
DOI: 10.1021/CEN090910154427

Court Clears Thai Projects

Petrochemicals: Construction activity will resume at Map Ta Phut

Jean-François Tremblay

One of the plants that was in limbo at Map Ta Phut. Jean-François Tremblay/C&EN
One of the plants that was in limbo at Map Ta Phut.
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The Central Administrative Court of Thailand has cleared 74 of 76 projects that had been suspended at the Map Ta Phut industrial estate, one of Asia’s largest chemical industry zones. Although environmental activists are contesting the court’s decision, the construction of dozens of chemical plants worth billions of dollars is now set to resume.

In September 2009, the same court froze the 76 projects because their licenses were granted before an assessment by an independent committee of environmental and safety experts. Evaluation of all industrial activities that are potentially harmful to the environment is mandated by the Thai constitution of 2007. The ruling threw the projects into limbo because the Thai cabinet had not yet issued regulations on how to appoint and run the committee of experts (C&EN, March 22, page 26).

The two projects that are still suspended are an ethylene glycol/oxide plant backed by PTT Chemical and a vinyl facility owned by Thai Plastic & Chemicals, according to the Thai investment firm Kasikorn Securities. But even these plants will go forward within six months, Kasikorn predicts.

Bayer, which had been ordered not to increase production at expanded polycarbonate and bisphenol A plants, says it can now obtain permits to fully operate its upgraded facilities. Similarly, Asahi Kasei, which endured the suspension of methyl methacrylate and acrylonitrile facilities, tells C&EN that construction will get back under way soon.

The administrative court reversed the order to suspend construction after the Thai cabinet narrowed its definition of the types of industrial activities considered harmful to the environment. The cabinet also clarified how the independent committee of experts will be appointed and run.

The court ruling does not ensure that the chemical industry in Thailand has a rosy future. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stressed in a weekly address earlier this month that Map Ta Phut can accommodate only so much industrial activity.

Furthermore, under pressure from local residents of Rayong province, where Map Ta Phut is located, the Thai senate will review the cabinet’s decision to reduce the number of industrial activities considered harmful.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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