The order to the governor and mayor has come from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Dr Wijarn Simachaya, who has stated that it is illegal hotels responsible for the issue and that he wants the hotels responsible found.
Dr Wijarn’s order comes following an inspection of the area at 3pm yesterday (Feb 11), with Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong, Patong Mayor Chalermluk Kebsup and other local government officials also in attendance.
During yesterday’s inspection of Patong Bay, Gov Norraphat urged Patong Municipality to instruct the wastewater treatment plant to pump wastewater away from Tri Trang Beach immediately.
However, Dr Wijarn soon pointed his finger towards Patong’s illegal hotels.
“Officials from the Environmental Department's Region 15 office in Phuket will come to work with Patong Municipality to solve this problem. They will look for the points where illegal hotels are releasing their wastewater into the sea.
“Those hotels will be charged according to the law,” Dr Wijarn said.
“We should fix this problem with the cooperation of hotels in Patong who are not connected to drains feeding the wastewater treatment plant.
“In addition, this is also likely to have happened because the Patong wastewater treatment plant is not working well.
“The plant has a capacity of over 30,000 cubic metres, but wastewater in the area is over 5,000 cubic metres per a day.
“This problem should be fix for the long term.
“Some hotels in Patong should even consider treating their own wasterwater so that it can be reused,” he added.
“Right now we responsible for this issue together. If we do not respond then the consequence is an effect on marine life and the tourism industry,” Dr Wijarn said.
Mayor Chalermluk last Friday (Feb 9) stated that a fault in the construction of the upgrade to the Patong Wastewater Treatment Plant had allowed raw sewage to flow untreated into Patong Bay.
“I have been informed of wastewater leakage into the sea this afternoon from faults during the construction of the new wastewater-treatment tank (phase four),” Mayor Chalermluck told The Phuket News. (See story here.)
However, the following day (Feb 10), Mayor Chalermluk requested patience regarding information on wastewater released into Patong Bay, visibly turning the seawater at the end of Patong Beach black, as officials investigate the source of the problem.
“We are not sure yet if it came from our wastewater treatment facility, because it was quite far away, about a kilometre from the wastewater treatment tanks,” said Mayor Chalermluck on Saturday.
“We don’t yet know what happened or where it came from, whether it was from the wastewater treatment or maybe a hotel nearby,” she added. (See story here.)
The uncertainty was a shift from her initial statement made last Friday.