The town of Krabi is one of Thailand's most famous tourist destinations and also a centre of marine biodiversity in the region, providing livelihoods and revenue for local residents. The Krabi province is home to thousands of people who depend on fishing and tourism.See more...
In 2013, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) announced their plans to build a new up to 870 MW coal-fired power plant in the area, on the same site as an already existing, decommissioned plant, which had been operational for over three decades. From 1995 on, the converted power plant has housed a 340 MW generating unit combining gas and oil. The new plant would be over eight times bigger than the old one and reconvert the plant to go back to burning coal on a much larger scale.
During a protest by 500 Krabi villagers on 11 February 2013 against the construction of the plant, they claimed that the original, first version of the coal-fired plant in the area, which was operational from 1964 to 1995, had already left many of them with respiratory problems and cancer. Following the protests Greenpeace activists also took their anger about new coal plant projects - including Krabi - to the streets in March 2013.
Greenpeace claims that the proposed coal-fired plant and coal seaport would damage or even destroy Krabi's marine life and wetlands, hurting local tourism as well as the local fishing industry and economy. Also, they say that the project's Environment Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) process has been deeply flawed. Representatives of the local community are said to have been silenced, ignored and marginalized during the consultation process. Also, access to adequate information has not been guaranteed. Testimony from local residents shows their discontent with the project and that they still seem to suffer from the impacts of the old decommissioned plant that was operational for 30 years. During its operation, some species of fish had black spots on their scales, many fish died and the stock decreased, shells were not eatable anymore, mangrove died around the power plant area and there was erosion which made land around the area unusable. Because of their three decade experience with the coal-fired plant and how it had affected them, most of the local residents seem to categorically oppose the project.
In April 2014, environmental activists were protesting plans to reopen the coal plant and outbreaks of violence between supporters and opponents of the plant created divisions within the community. Meanwhile, EGAT was still moving forward with the project. In January 2015, protests were still going on and a silent protest was staged by local residents. The group of protesters gathered in front of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and urged the minister to take action to stop the project. The tourism minister Ms Kobkarn said she will study the impact of the plant and consult the project plans with the energy minister. The protest network had also submitted 16 letters of complaint concerning the coal plant to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports over the past three years, but claimed that they had never received any feedback.
According to EGAT, construction for the facility would begin in 2015 and the plant would start supplying electricity by 2019.