AMITIAE - Sunday 19 July 2015

Cassandra: Photographic Show at BACC - Effects of Mae Moh Lignite Mining on Health

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


A few years ago I went with a party of students to the Mae Moh power plant in Lampang province (between Tak and Chiang Mai). There had already been considerable negative publicity about the pollution from the 2,400-megawatt plant and from the extensive lignite mining in the area. The roads, trees, houses - even the people it seemed - were coated with a layer of dust. Everything was grey.

During a second trip a few years later the Electricity Generating Authority personnel (EGAT) were at pains to point out how the air was cleaner and indicators in the control room showed figures that appeared even lower than figures for Bangkok's polluted streets.

Outside a major park within the grounds of the power station had been extensively cleaned up and in the distance there was considerable evidence of land-reclamation. But still the lignite was being mined somewhere in the area, and being transported to the power stations by massive conveyors where it was turned into energy.

BACC Lignite Mae Moh

There is a photographic exhibition currently at the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center (BACC): Dark Side of the City. With the number of malls in Bangkok and elsewhere, all consuming vast amounts of power, few think (or need to think) how that power is generated. Like the water for golf-courses, it is always there.

The images round the walls of floors 4 and 5 of the Center show the human effects of the mining. In the UK and other countries where coal is mined, black lung and other pulmonary diseases occur, but there are usually health-care systems to look after the victims. In Lampang, of the thousands of villagers effected, only a few treated have their symptoms blamed on the mining of lignite, and of those only around 150 have been compensated.

The stark monochrome portraits of some of those who live in the area are shown to remind city-dwellers of some of the costs of their air-conditioned houses and malls.

BACC Lignite Mae Moh

The show is opens every day at BACC an is running unto 26 July when there will be a numer of events to close:

  • 13:00 - A documentary (in Thai) loosely tanslated as Black Sheep

  • 14:00 - Discussion

  • 15:00 - Youth talk, involving high school students

  • 15:30 - Music: described as punk group "Drunk All Day" performing on acoustic instruments.

For more information there is a Facebook Page: ThaiClimateJustice. Those in Bangkok are encouraged to visit the exhibition for the stark education the photographs provide and for more information about the way parts of the environment are ceaselessly polluted, ostensibly for our benefit.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2015