The investigation was initiated after a complaint was made by a woman who posted a video on Facebook showing black water flowing onto the beach and into the sea.
Banyad Horpetch, an officer from the Patong Municipality Sanitation Division, first went to inspect the area on April 10 but was unable to locate the source. (See story here.)
Mr Horpetch told The Phuket News yesterday (Apr 18), “I still haven’t found where the wastewater is coming from but I think it is being released by one of the three hotels located nearby, namely Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Absolute Twin Sands Resort & Spa, and Emerald Hotel.
“I have to check every possible route; if I find the source I will inform you,” Mr Banyad said.
Mr Banyad confirmed that Patong Deputy Mayor Boonma Aeapsap called representatives from all three hotels and told them to check that their wastewater treatment systems are functioning correctly and to not allow wastewater to flow out untreated.
“All three hotels are located outside the wastewater treatment system of Patong Municipality,” Mr Banyad said. “They must have their own wastewater treatment systems in place and they must treat wastewater before it is released.
“Patong Municipality will continue to inspect the wastewater treatment systems of the hotels as usual. But I think it is likely that they will activate the systems when we go to inspect them and then deactivate them when we leave to save on running costs,” he stressed.
On Wednesday (Apr 17) Deputy Mayor Boonma told The Phuket News, “I think the recent dark-coloured water that flowed onto Merlin Beach was rainwater runoff, not wastewater because Patong had heavy rain on Tuesday (Apr 16) which brought mud into the drains.
“Patong Municipality every month inspects the wastewater treatment systems of hotels that have over 80 rooms as we must send a report to the Regional Environment Office each month. But I think there may be hotels in the area that discreetly release wastewater onto Merlin beach,” Mr Boonma suggested.
The Phuket News has yet to receive a reply about whether or not the wastewater treatment systems of hotels with less than 80 rooms are inspected.
The Deputy Mayor explained that he gave his telephone number to a masseuse on Merlin Beach and asked her to get in touch if she notices wastewater flowing onto the beach again, in which case an officer would go to inspect it immediately.
“Once we discover who has been releasing wastewater onto the beach, they will be fined according to the 1992 Cleanliness Act,” he stressed.
“I ordered officers at Patong Municipality to clean the drains in the area on Wednesday as heavy rain caused the drains to overflow in Patong on Tuesday.”
Mr Boonma confirmed that he spoke with a representative of Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa who insisted they would not release wastewater onto Merlin beach as it would directly affect the resort due to its location and its guests using the beach.
UPDATE: Michael Massey, GM Resorts & Director Wellness at Absolute World, has issued a statement in response to the allegations made above by Patong Deputy Mayor Boonma Aeapsap.
The statement is as follows:
We strongly refute this allegation and welcome an inspection to verify the high standards and quality of the wastewater treatment at Twin Sands Resort and Spa. Absolute World Group is a leader amongst Phuket resorts in fostering environmentally sustainable practices.
Further, we are a signatory to the Phuket Hotel Association’s “Plastic Pledge”, and have ceased use of single use plastic bottles and plastic straws, and are introducing chemical free soaps and shampoos to guest rooms.
We are rightfully proud of our efforts to build a better Phuket and encourage the Deputy Mayor to aggressively pursue the true culprits.