On June 11, 2015, Deputy Public Health Minister Somsak Chunharas had a meeting with four groups of people concerned about the impacts of mining on the public. The first group consisted of government officials including those from the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Ministry of Justice. The second group comprised academics including geologists from Rangsit University. People affected by gold mining in Phichit, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun provinces formed the third group and the fourth group represented gold miners. The meeting was aimed at allowing the parties to jointly develop a system to ensure the good health and quality of life of people living around gold mines.
Dr. Somsak said that the Ministry of Public Health wanted to protect the health of people in risk areas because evidence showed that people living near mines suffered from the high contamination of heavy metal in their blood. The meeting came up with six short and long-term measures. Firstly, the Department of Health will take main responsibilities for maintaining water quality for consumption. Initial tests on water from 40 ponds in 24 villages show that eight ponds are contaminated with heavy metal. The 32 other ponds are being monitored and tested. This is to establish an effective system to monitor and improve water quality. Secondly, the Pollution Control Department will take the lead in gathering information and monitoring the environment and public health. Thirdly, there will be health care services for people. Fourthly, a medical working group of the Ministry of Public Health will improve the public services. Fifthly, health and environmental data will be collected in the areas where there will be gold mines. Sixthly, there will be actions to reduce risks in the gold mines that have adverse impacts on people.
Source: Matichon’s afternoon edition on June 13, 2015
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