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Chiang Mai air pollution worsens - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    Fire ban imminent as North chokes on dust

    Flights cancelled because of poor visibility; four provinces covered by smoke for more than a week

    The government is expected to declare emergency pollution-control zones in four northern provinces today as fires shroud the region in a thick pall of smoke.

    Commercial flights have been cancelled because of a lack of visibility. The haze is caused by agricultural burn-offs and refuse fires.

    Environment Minister Kasem Sanidwong na Ayudhaya said he would seek Cabinet approval for an emergency ban on burning and other measures.

    Air pollution from fires is worsening in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nan and Mae Hong Son.

    Kasem said control measures were devised by the ministry yesterday following an inspection by officials.

    Ministry permanent secretary Pitipong Puengboon na Ayutthaya said the prime minister could enforce bans using the Environ-mental Protection Act 1992. The act allows for emergency bans to halt environmental damage.

    If the Cabinet imposes the ban, it will be the second time the power has been used, he said. The first was almost a decade ago when then prime minister Chuan Leekpai used it to ban inland shrimp farming on the Central plains.

    In addition to the ban the ministry wants to establish a call centre for residents to report burning and to assist people suffering from respiratory problems.

    A dense layer of smoke has covered the four provinces for more than a week. In addition to agricultural and refuse burning, forest fires have added to the haze.

    Chiang Mai governor Wichai Sri-kwan did not wait for the central government moves and declared Phrao and Chaiya Prakan districts disaster zones.

    Chaiya Prakan district chief Chokedee Amornwat said declaring the areas disaster zones guaranteed money to fight the crisis.

    He said forest fires and not residential burning caused the smoke.

    PB Air yesterday cancelled its two flights between Bangkok and Nan, while Nok Air cancelled its Bangkok-Chiang Mai return flight. There was no Bangkok service from Mae Hong Son airport for the second day but there was one flight to Chiang Mai.

    Chiang Mai Tourism Busi-ness Association adviser Somrit Haikham was afraid the haze would keep visitors away.

    Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health chief Dr Rattha-wut Sukmee recommended people wore facemasks.

    The Agriculture Ministry said yesterday cloud-seeding efforts were underway and rain was expected within a week. Rain should ease the haze.

    The Nation

  2. #22
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    Flights to Mae Hong Son cancelled as thick smoke blankets Mae Hog Son
    All Thai Airways International flights to Mae Hong Son provinces were cancelled on Tuesday as thick pall of smoke caused by fire continued blanketing the areas.

    Wisoot Buachoom, a tourism chief, said that Mae Hong Son has suffered from thick smoke for many days. The condition has put difficulties for flights from Chiang Mai to land in Mae Hong Son airport.

    "Therefore THAI office decides to suspend all flights to Mae Hong Son. The smoke and the cancellation of flights have effected the tourism of the province, about Bt500,000 per day," he said.

    Meanwhile Thada Satta, chief of Mae Hong Son's weather office said that the smoke limited visibility to be at about 500-700 metres.

    However he said it is expected to have raining and strong wind in the area on Friday which could help alleviate the smoke in the province.

    The Nation

  3. #23
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    Anyone have a match?

    Kajohn Boonpath
    The Governor of Mae Hong Son, Deerek Konkreep, is determined to go after those guilty of setting fires in his province. The fires and smoke have gotten so bad it has created safety concerns for airplanes trying to land and takeoff at Mae Hong Song’s airport.
    Those found guilty of setting fires will face charges such as assets forfeiture, civil suits and fines to cover the burned land that is damaged.
    At this time of year brush clearing by setting fires is a common practice, but the Governor has had enough, ‘”law violators will be punished and severely prosecuted,” he added.
    The recent fires have caused blankets of smoke over Mae Hong Son city limiting visibility to between 1 to 3 kilometers.
    The Tha Pong Dang Forest Fire Control Center estimated that more than 10 million tons of brush, leaves and fields have gone up in smoke in recent weeks

    Chiangmai Mail

    Picture:A smoky bird’s eye view of Mae Hong Song’s airport in the distance.
    (copyright Chiangmai Mail )
    Last edited by Khun Don; 29-10-07 at 01:21 AM.

  4. #24
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    Rainmakers fight choking haze in Thai north
    13 Mar 2007 11:54:05 GMT
    Source: Reuters

    CHIANG MAI, March 13 (Reuters) - Royal Thai Air Force rainmakers bombarded clouds over haze-choked northern Thailand for a third day on Tuesday, hoping to coax rains to clear away thick smoke from forest fires and stubble burning.

    Punching into clouds high above Thailand's mountainous north bordering Laos and Myanmar, the planes have been seeding clouds with a cocktail of chemicals since Sunday.

    "We hoped the artificial rainmaking would help push out the haze, but the attempts have failed," Deputy Prime Minister Paiboon Wattanasiritham told reporters after a helicopter tour of the affected areas.

    The far north has not seen rain since November in what has been an unusually long and dry cool season in Thailand.

    But weather experts briefing Paiboon on the haze said they expected some badly needed moisture by the weekend.

    The haze, caused by natural and man-made fires in Thailand and its neighbours, started spreading over the far north nearly two weeks ago.

    Cold weather has pushed the smoke down into low-lying areas.

    It now affects 5 million people across eight northern provinces, Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla told reporters in Bangkok.

    In Chiang Mai, Thailand's second largest city and a major tourism hub, the choking, eye-watering haze reached its worst in 10 days on Tuesday, the Environment Ministry said.

    Chiang Mai's main hospital is treating 100 people with serious respiratory problems, three times the normal caseload for this time of year.

    Pregnant women, children and the elderly have been urged to stay inside or wear face masks. Most outdoor events have been cancelled.

    The haze has slashed visibility to a few hundred metres (yards) in scores of low-lying towns and villages, and disrupted flights to and from the region.

    Chiang Mai's provincial governor declared two districts disaster zones, the state-owned Thai News Agency reported.

    In Bangkok, Environment Minister Kasem Sanitwong Na Ayutthaya said various levels of government were pooling resources to fight the fires.

    "If we cannot put out the fires, we may declare a state of emergency, but we have not reached that stage yet," he told reporters.

  5. #25
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    yesterday was horrible. the sun was blazing red at 3 p.m. and I started choking. I hope it will clear before I have to go back on April 1st....

  6. #26
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    I think you are well out of it, Betti. Hopefully things will improve soon.

  7. #27
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    Thailand haze 'worst in 14 years'

    Thick smoke from forest fires and slash-and-burn farming has spread over northern Thailand in the worst haze in 14 years, disrupting airline flights and irritating eyes and lungs, officials said on Monday.
    The smoke from fires in Thailand and neighboring Laos and Myanmar slashed visibility in scores of towns and villages, including the major tourism hub of Chiang Mai.

    "When I was driving to work this morning, I could see only 100 to 200 meters ahead of me," Taewan Dumronghud, a station manager for Thai Airways, told Reuters by telephone from Mae Hong Son near the Myanmar border.

    "We can only hope that the rains will come sooner and wash it away," Taewan said, whose car was covered in ash at the airport.

    The haze also disrupted flights to Chiang Mai on Sunday when air quality levels reached their worst in Thailand's second largest city.

    Thailand's mountainous north is a popular destination for adventure tourism. The haze-affected areas are located near the borders of Myanmar and Laos -- the so-called Golden Triangle once famed for its opium poppy fields.

    Weather experts said unseasonably cold weather had exacerbated the problem by pushing the smoke down into valleys and other low-lying areas.

    "Sixty percent of the haze covering the region comes from burning of farm waste after harvest, and the other 40 percent from forest fires," Anuwat Kunarak, director of the region's Environment Management Office, told Reuters.

    "It's cheaper for farmers to get rid of the waste by setting it on fire and then switching to a new cash crop," he said, adding the haze was the worst recorded by his office in 14 years.

    Chiang Mai has been draped in a choking, eye-watering haze since last Friday, triggering health warnings for children and the elderly to stay inside or use surgery masks.

    Healthy adults were urged to stop all outdoor exercise.

    Many residents complained of burning eyes, coughing and sore throats from the smoke.

    "This is the worst summer we have had," Pornsanong Teo, a 43-year-old father, said as he took his son to a city lookout point to observe the haze.

    Source: Reuters
    (Thanh Nien Daily)

    Picture: A Thai woman reads her notebook as smoke from forest fires billows into the sky in the northern province of Chiang Mai, north of Bangkok
    (copyright Reuters)
    Last edited by Khun Don; 29-10-07 at 01:21 AM.

  8. #28
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    Chiang Mai was absolutely the worst I'd ever seen it as far as visibility today. I could really only see what I thought was less than half a km away. I wondered why the sky was an odd shade of yellow/green. I didn't know the problem was getting this bad.

  9. #29
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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    AIR POLLUTION
    Smog crisis in North could linger for weeks

    High pressure may keep haze in air till April, but Cabinet refuses to impose emergency moves

    Weather experts have warned that the haze blanketing the North could linger until April as harmful dust levels hit the highest level since air quality tests revealed deteriorating conditions two weeks ago.

    An abundance of fires lit in rural areas has been largely blamed for the pollution.

    The haze is costing Chiang Mai alone up to Bt30 million a day in lost tourist income, the chairman of the northern provinces' chamber of commerce Narong Tana-nuwat said.

    Despite the worsening situation, the Cabinet yesterday turned down an Environment Ministry proposal to declare the region an emergency control zone, in a bid to empower authorities to tackle the source of the problem.

    Government spokesman Yongyuth Maiyalarp said yesterday the Cabinet had been told by the Meteorological Department's northern bureau that the smog could persist until April and that special monitoring may be needed until June.

    The Pollution Control Depart-ment (PCD) reported yesterday that the level of dust particles smaller than 10 microns in Chiang Mai's air had reached 284 micrograms per cubic metre. The standard level for these particles in the air is 120 micrograms per cubic metre. Currently, provincial authorities have limited power to tackle the crisis.

    Chiang Mai's provincial environment office asked restaurants and street vendors yesterday to temporarily stop using barbecues.

    "These businesses share some responsibility for the smoke in the air," department head Phuchong Insomphan explained.

    The city's authorities turned on all fountains for 24 hours to increase humidity and today fire trucks are due to spray water into the air in the city centre.

    The Environment Ministry proposed that the Cabinet declare the emergency controls to enable provincial governors to ban all forms of combustion.

    At present, governors can only ask people to stop burning rubbish, farm waste and clearing scrubland, which are believed to be the major causes of the haze.

    If the Cabinet had agreed to the move, it would have been only the second time powers authorised under the 1992 Environmental Protection Act had been used. The first time was almost a decade ago when then premier Chuan Leekpai used the legislation to ban inland shrimp farming on the Central plains.

    Spokesman Yongyuth said the Cabinet would only issue emergency pollution controls as a last resort. He said Cabinet asked the Environment Ministry to use other means, such as recommending that farmers reuse their waste rather than burning it.

    The Agricultural Ministry was called on to induce artificial rain.

    Commanders from the Third Army Region were asked to organise forest patrols to monitor and extinguish fires.

    The Health Ministry will set up clinics in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nan, Lampang and Mae Hong Son provinces.

    Yongyuth said if the air quality did not improve, the Cabinet would reconsider whether to declare the region an emergency pollution control zone.

    This is the second time the Surayud regime has refused to take measures to ease pollution sought by the Environment Ministry. Last month the ministry asked the government declare Map Ta Phut a pollution control zone, due to the high levels of a volatile organic compounds in the air and the apparent high incidence of cancer cases in the area.

    Two sub-committees were established to address the situation at Map Ta Phut instead.

    Deputy Prime Minister Paiboon Wattana-siritham took a 45-minute helicopter flight to inspect the skies over Chiang Mai and Lamphun yesterday, then described the smog as "unusual". "We need a long term plan to prevent similar problems in future years," he said.

    Thaweewat Nilpetcharat, from the weather bureau, said high air pressure had trapped the pollution, which might persist until late next month, when the pressure was likely to fall.

    "Even if no more smoke is generated, the problem will not ease rapidly as high pressure still covers the region," he said.

    Thousands of residents have reported respiratory problems over the last fortnight. Outdoor activities are prohibited and pregnant women, the elderly and children are advised to wear facemasks, Health Minister Dr Mongkol na Songkhla has said.

    Around 130,000 masks have been distributed and 170,000 more are expected soon.

    Most flights to Chiang Mai, Nan, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son have been cancelled due to the poor visibility and Thai Airways yesterday cancelled its flight between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son for the third consecutive day.

    The Nation

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    Re: Chiang Mai air pollution worsens

    Authorities set one week smoke deadline
    By Anucha Charoenpo and Apinya Wipatayotin

    The government will declare a state of environmental emergency in the northern provinces and impose harsher penalties on slash-and-burn violators if they don't stop within a week.

    Natural Resources and Environment Minister Kasem Snidvongs said article 9 of the 1992 National Environmental Quality Act deals with the question of an emergency or public danger arising from a natural disaster or pollution caused by contamination and spread of pollutants.

    In such cases, the prime minister has the power to order government agencies, state enterprises or any relevant people to take prompt action in order to control or mitigate the adverse effects of such danger or damage.

    After the declaration of a state of emergency, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont would have absolute power to consider what measures should be taken or whether people should be evacuated, Mr Kasem said after the cabinet meeting.

    He said the cabinet was also very concerned about the severity of the forest fires, especially in the northern provinces. Dangerously high levels of small dust particles have been generated by forest fires and burning activities.

    The minister said forest fire control units from provinces with a low risk of forest fires, as well as soldiers from the Third Region Army, have been sent to the northern provinces to help local officials control the bush fires and haze crisis.

    The Pollution Control Department yesterday reported that the level of small dust particles in the air in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son provinces was measured at between 240 and 290 milligrammes per cubic metre (ug/cu m), against the health standard of a maximum of 120 ug/cu m.

    The level of dust in Chiang Mai was measured at 284 ug/cu m, the highest since the department issued its first dust warning on March 6.

    Siri Aka-akara, director of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department's forest fire control division, said the forest fire peak period would continue until the end of this month. This means air quality in the northern provinces, particularly Chiang Mai, could get worse unless there is more rain.

    Mr Siri predicted that there would be more forest fires in the northern provinces due to a very low moisture level in the atmosphere, scarce rainfall and increasing burning activities on farmland.

    "When such human activity mixes with natural conditions, then the severity of these forest fires will be terribly high," Mr Siri said.

    The forest fire control chief said the haze problems occurred in the northern provinces every year during this period, but this year's situation was far more critical due to some "unusual climate conditions".

    "The country has never experienced a cold air mass during this time of the year. But the cold air mass hit us this year and has blocked the small dust particles from evaporating into the air. A shortage of rainfall also worsened the situation," Mr Siri explained.

    Suraphol Leelawaropas, the chief of the forest fire control division in Chiang Mai, said statistics showed that the smoke that has shrouded the province mainly came from slash-and-burn activities in farmlands, not from bush fires.

    Puchong Insomphun, chief of Chiang Mai environmental office, said the situation had not shown any signs of improving thus far.

    Officials had been searching for sources of smoke and found that Korean Bulgogi, a chain of outdoor barbecue restaurants, was a major source of smoke in northern cities, he said.

    "We will soon ask these restaurants to reduce the smoke from their barbecue stoves. Although this would only be able to reduce a small amount of the smoke, we will have to do it to improve air quality," Mr Puchong said

    Bangkok Post

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