Call to probe sand transfer to Singapore

September 17, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Apinya Wipatayotin
The Bangkok Post

A company’s request to ship sand sediment to Singapore after dredging it needs more study, a local environmental group says.

The sediment could contain a high level of silica, which is protected under the law, the coordinator of the Andaman Organisation for Participatory Restoration of Natural Resources, Thanu Nabneon, said yesterday.

Singapore-based K and Sand Corp has offered to help the Tambon Bang Nai Sri Administrative Office in Phangnga’s Takua Pa district clear sediment blocking the mouth of the Takua Pa River.

The company offered the service at no charge on the condition it was allowed to ship the sediment to Singapore, he said.

The firm could not be reached for comment but the Department of Mineral Resources confirmed the request had been made.

The sediment would be cleared from a site measuring 30 square kilometres and up to 11 metres deep, said Preecha Laochu, director of the Department of Mineral Resources’ Geo-Technical Office.

Mr Thanu said the firm had asked a handful of state agencies for permission.

“The company claims the sediment has no value for industry and would not breach export regulations,” Mr Thanu said.

“But if there is no economic value, why does the company offer to dredge it for free?

“We could lose over a million cubic metres of sediment, which could harm the coastline’s ecological system.

“The area is an environment and natural resources protection zone, so an environment impact study is required for any activities which might harm the environment.”

A Commerce Ministry regulation said sand containing over 75% silica oxide could not be exported.

The regulation was designed to preserve sand, which has economic value. Silica is a component used in making cement.

Mr Preecha said the Geo-Technical Office and the company planned to test the silicon level of the sediment.

“We have written to the company and the tambon office demanding a sediment sampling test. The department and company will share the cost,” Mr Preecha said.