Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup confirmed to The Phuket News on Friday (Jan 24) that the resort fined was the Absolute Twin Sands Resort & Spa, on Muen Nguen Rd near Tri Trang Beach.
The fine followed an inspection last Monday (Jan 20) led by Provincial Ombudsman Athiwat Yodwan, accompanied by officers from Patong Municipality’s public health division.
Mr Arthiwat explained that he was ordered to carry out the inspection by the Phuket Governor after images of dirty wastewater emptying into the sea at Merlin Beach went viral on Thai social media.
Mayor Chalermluck pointed out that the fine was issued for breach of Section 33 of the of Act on the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country B.E. 2535. (See here.)
“It is the maximum fine of B10,000,” she said.
Banyad Horpetch at the Patong Municipality Sanitation Division explained to The Phuket News, “We inspected the area on Monday (Jan 20), and found many hotels and properties releasing their wastewater into the public drain that leads to Merlin Beach.
“However, to identify exactly which property was causing the problem we had to shut off the pipes from each property releasing wastewater into the drain until we found exactly which one was responsible,” he said.
Mr Banyad said that the resort was one of three Absolute properties that feed wastewater into a central system, before the wastewater is released into the drain.
“There is a condo, a resort and another condo building, and all three have their wastewater flow into the one treatment facility before it is released into the drain.
“The wastewater treatment system has the capacity to treat about 80 cubic metres of wastewater per day, but these properties at their peak together release about 100m3 of wastewater a day. This leads to the excess wastewater flowing into the public drain untreated,” he said.
Mayor Chalermluck said that the resort now had 60 days from last Friday (Jan 24) to improve its wastewater treatement system to cope with the load.
After the grace period has concluded (on Mar 24) officers from the Phuket office of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and Patong Municipality health officials will inspect the wastewater treatment system to ensure it is adequate, Mayor Chalermluck added.
“Until then, Absolute Twin Sands Resort & Spa has been ordered to take their excess wastewater to the Patong Municipality water treatment centre,” Mr Banyad noted.
In response to the resort being fined, Absolute World Group issued the following statement to The Phuket News today (Jan 27):
“On Saturday 18 January a leak from an underground wastewater pipe joint in the final phase of the Twin Sands development was identified. Technicians from the company sub-contracted for property maintenance promptly pumped the leaking water to an internal retention tank. Regrettably this caused a surge which escaped via an overflow to the public drain and then to Merlin Beach.
“Upon recognising that a surge had occurred the technicians worked with Tessabaan officers to sandbag the public drain temporarily to prevent any further run-off to the beach.
“The underground pipe joint was repaired within two hours of the leak being identified. And we have worked with the Tessabaan and our wider team to ensure the issue has been correctly repaired and fully rectified.
“The 10,000 THB fine issued by Tessabaan was paid promptly by the sub-contractor.
“We have taken all steps to ensure this will not occur again and can alleviate any concerns our fellow Phuket islanders may hold as we continue to work within the standards of the EIA, taking our environmental responsibility extremely seriously,” the statement said.