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Srettha Thavisin’s Environmental Crusade: The Battle to Recover 11,000 Tonnes of Missing Cadmium Waste in Thailand

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In a turn of events that feels plucked straight from a high-stakes environmental thriller, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Srettha Thavisin, has embarked on an urgent quest full of twists and turns. The mission? To unravel the mysterious vanishing act of a whopping 11,000 tonnes of cadmium waste from a Samut Sakhon smelting factory. The drama unfolded on the premier’s X account, where he made a declaration reminiscent of a superhero’s call to action. He pledged to banish all renegade tailings to the shadow realm (figuratively speaking) within a mere 15 days.

Last Thursday, the scene was set at an unassuming smelting factory nestled in the Muang district, which turned out to be the stage for this environmental enigma. Here, some 13,450 tonnes of cadmium tailings, alongside their zinc counterparts, were discovered hoarding space without so much as a by-your-leave. The plot thickened as it came to light that these cadmium tailings hailed from the halls of Bound & Beyond Plc in Tak, while J&B Metal Co held the deed to the factory’s grounds.

Quick to the draw, Samut Sakhon governor Phon Damtham declared the factory and its environs a no-go zone for 90 days, stirring intrigue and speculation far and wide. In a daring move, the government commanded the cadmium waste to embark on a homecoming journey within seven days, with a stern directive to dismantle it within two weeks.

Spokesman Chai Watcharonke, the voice of the operation, disclosed that the Prime Minister demanded a draconian management approach that would leave the people’s lives untouched by the unfolding drama. Meanwhile, the Pollution Control Department (PCD) launched a covert operation, deploying operatives to gather soil and air samples in a 1km radius cloak-and-dagger style, only to discover, to much relief, that the phantom of cadmium had not tainted the ground or air.

The narrative took a darker turn within the factory premises, however, where the PCD uncovered ghastly levels of cadmium contamination, akin to uncovering a supervillain’s hideout. With numbers soaring to 31.58g/kg at the factory’s threshold, the menace loomed larger than the safe level of a meager 0.81g/kg, painting a stark contrast between safety and peril.

As if the stakes weren’t high enough, the PCD delved deeper, sending water samples from the lair’s drainage and a neighboring canal for analysis, promising a speedy resolution to this impending saga. Meanwhile, in a plot twist, plans to dispatch the cadmium back to its Tak stronghold faced potential delays, prompting the search for an alternative hideout for this unwelcome guest.

In a tale of resilience and preparedness, Suraphon Wongsukpaisan, the deputy governor of Tak, revealed that the local pits, once excavated for the tailings, stood ready and robust, awaiting to once again entomb their toxic treasure.

Amidst this whirlwind of events, Pol Gen Phatcharavat Wongsuwan, guardian of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, issued a decree for the PCD to hasten its investigation and unveil all knowledge to the watchful public eye, ensuring the tale of the vanishing cadmium doesn’t fade into the mists of obscurity but serves as a beacon of action and transparency.

As this saga unfolds, it’s a poignant reminder of our indelible impact on Mother Earth and the lengths to which we must go to protect her. The story of the disappearing cadmium waste is more than just an environmental conundrum; it’s a thrilling narrative of governance, stewardship, and the relentless human spirit striving for a cleaner, safer planet.


  1. EcoWarrior22 April 6, 2024

    Incredible effort by PM Srettha Thavisin! It’s a breath of fresh air to see government officials taking environmental hazards seriously. This could be a pivotal moment for environmental governance in Asia.

    • SkepticalSue April 6, 2024

      But is it really? Or is it just another politician making grand statements with little substance? We’ve seen this drama before; big promises, little delivery.

      • EcoWarrior22 April 6, 2024

        I understand the cynicism, but the action taken—a 90-day lockdown and a strict timeline for waste removal—shows a level of commitment we haven’t seen in a while. Plus, proactive measures like testing soil and air quality signal real steps, not just rhetoric.

      • RealistRay April 6, 2024

        Let’s not forget the politics of optics. Making a big show of environmental cleanup can be a powerful tool to distract the public from other issues. Actions speak louder than words, sure, but let’s see the results first.

    • JimTheGeek April 6, 2024

      What’s fascinating here is the technology and logistics involved in moving and managing 11,000 tonnes of toxic waste. Contamination at that scale is a biohazard nightmare. Keeping an eye on the cleanup tech they use!

  2. GreenThumbLina April 6, 2024

    This is why environmental audits and stricter regulations are crucial for industries dealing with hazardous materials. Cadmium is extremely toxic, and its mishandling poses serious health risks. Hopefully, this incident sparks tighter controls.

    • TechTrevor April 6, 2024

      That’s the dream, but tighter regulations often face strong opposition from industry lobbyists. It’s a delicate balance between environmental safety and economic interests, and unfortunately, the latter often wins.

  3. HistoryBuff April 6, 2024

    Cadmium pollution isn’t a new dilemma. There’s historical precedence worldwide of its devastating effects on ecosystems and human health. The real challenge is ensuring this isn’t just a one-off cleanup, but the start of sustainable management of hazardous waste.

  4. PolicyPete April 6, 2024

    One has to ponder the efficacy of short-term remedies to long-standing environmental issues. While commendable, the action taken by the PM must not overshadow the need for systemic change in how we deal with industrial waste globally.

  5. CuriousCat April 6, 2024

    Can someone explain how cadmium ends up being so dangerous? I know it’s bad, but what exactly does it do?

    • SciFiSi April 6, 2024

      Cadmium is hazardous because it’s a heavy metal that accumulates in and damages the liver, kidneys, and bones. It can cause cancer and is particularly dangerous because it doesn’t break down in the environment, leading to long-term contamination issues.

    • GreenThumbLina April 6, 2024

      Adding to SciFiSi’s point, cadmium exposure often happens through food and water contaminated by industrial waste. That’s why incidents like these are so alarming. They don’t just affect the immediate environment but have far-reaching impacts on public health.

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