Mae Moh coal plant
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The Mae Moh coal plant has 13 generating units with a total capacity of 2,625 megawatt (MW). It is located in the mountains of Lampang province in northern Thailand. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) constructed the plants in four phases from 1978 to 1996. It owns and operates the Mae Moh Power Plant, which is fueled by the Mae Moh coal mine, an open pit lignite mine which produces 40,000 tons per day. With an area of 135 square kilometers, it is considered the largest coal-fired power plant in Southeast Asia.
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), it has been involved in Mae Moh mine for financing several units. It approved a series of loans amounting to more than US$352 million for the past twenty years.
On its website the Italian-Thai Development, a major Thai construction company, states that it worked on Units 8 - 13 between 1986 and 1992. The lists its role as being the "fabrication and delivery of steel work for gas and air ducts of the boiler buildings, turbine buildings and cooling water system."
Environmental and Social Impacts
According to Greenpeace, the Mae Moh power plant approximately contributes more than four million tons of carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere, annually. In addition, around 1.6 million tons of sulfur gas is released from the power plant into the air everyday. Greenpeace also said that from the time of the implementation of the Mae Moh coal power plant, more than 30,000 people have been displaced and thousands acquired severe respiratory problems, due to the inhalation and exposure to sulfur dioxide emitted from the mine. In October 2003, the State Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning Office found high levels of arsenic, chromium and manganese in almost all water sources within the vicinity of the plant.
The fly ash has also affected the crops of the villagers. According to one villager, her planted vegetables and fruits died because of the toxic that the coal power plant emitted. Another villager recounted that her pineapple plantation wilt over the years. Farmlands have been negatively affected by acid rain which is attributed to the sulfuric dioxide released by the coal power plant. In May 2004, the Thai Provincial court awarded US$142,500 to the villagers for crop damages caused by the coal power plant.
To mitigate the negative impacts of the plant, pollution control devices, such as flue gas desulfurization (FGD) and ionizing wet scrubbers, were installed by the government.
Involuntary Resettlement Policy
Due to the implementation of the project, more than 30,000 people have been displaced. According to reports, Thailand’s cabinet previously offered to build houses for those who were affected. However, there has reportedly been no progress.
Articles and resources
- "The Grievous Mae Moh Coal Power Plant" ADB, February 2, 2008.
- Rosien, Jessica. “ADB’s Dirty Involvement in Coal-Fired Power.” Bankwatch. Vol. III, Is. 2, December 2004.
- Asian Development Bank. “Project Performance Audit Report on the Third Power Transmission (Sector) Project (Loan 1170-THA) and Fourth Power Transmission (Sector) Project (Loan 1245-THA) in Thailand.” Manila: ADB, September 2002.
- Italian-Thai Development, "Industrial and power plants", Italian-Thai Development website, accessed May 2011.
- Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “All Emission, No Solution: Energy Hypocrisy and the Asian Development Bank in Southeast Asia.” Greenpeace Briefing. May 2005.
- Meesubkwang, Saksit. “More Locals Claim Poisoning by Mae Moh Power Station in Lampang.” Chiang Mai Mail. Vol. V, No. 26, June 24-June 30, 2006.