• Thailand temporarily suspends operations at 600 factories as smog lingers in Bangkok

    11 February 2019

    The staggering on and off smog situation in Bangkok has prompted local authorities to temporarily shut 600 factories since February 4, at least until polluting emissions can be controlled. In compliance with the government’s regulatory measures, the Federation of Thai Industries agreed to reduce productions or suspend factory operations nationwide to tackle the crippling air pollution that has taken over Bangkok since mid-January. The likelihood of shutting down more factories is high as sources on February 11 indicate that air pollution in and around Bangkok is expected to intensify between February 13 and 15, with an increase in the level of PM2.5 dust particles. Northeastern provinces, including Khon Kaen, Chon Buri, Nan and Uttaradit are also experiencing haze pollution due to burning of sugarcane stalks.

    Reports suggested that operations at 1,300 to 1,500 factories have reportedly slowed down by 25 to 30 percent from its average production rates as the authorities believed that the drop will alleviate air pollution by 50 percent. Construction of electric train projects in Bangkok was also halted for seven days on January 17. Despite this, authorities are willing to suspend activities at more facilities, mostly from sugar mills, steel plants, cement factories and petrochemical companies, as 1,700 factories out of 100,000 were found to have exceeded the permitted environmental standards during a nationwide crackdown on January 16.

    To reduce dust particles emission, the state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand reportedly plans to suspend some construction projects although several power plants and power loading control systems are still required to operate. According to local authorities, vehicles fumes, construction dusts, burning of trash and crops were the primary contributing factors to pollution. Although at the time of writing, traffic regulations are yet to be imposed in Bangkok, almost 8,000 vehicles that were found to be emitting excessing black exhaust fumes were seized in the first week of February. Furthermore, reports suggested that trucks leaving from construction sites are required to have their wheels washed down to relieve dust particles.

    Resilience360 customers with production units in Bangkok and nearby provinces are advised to keep abreast of the local situation as more regulatory measures are possible at least until February 15. While shipments at Bangkok Port as well as pickup and delivery services have not been affected in the city, intermittent disruptions at tier 1 and 2 supplier levels are likely to persist until the haze subsides.

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