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The hatch that caused problems in discharging waste with no warning

Phuket Beach Pollution Leaks Onto TV Again

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
PHUKET: A German television documentary team has taken water samples on Phuket beaches that show some are ''not fit for swimming,'' Phuketwan has learned.

The documentary makers visited Phuket in January and took samples from Nai Harn, Kata, Karon and Patong, according to a reliable source who wishes to remain anonymous.

''They are private film makers who were planning on selling their findings to a German television station,'' Phuketwan was told.

Questions about the quality of seawater at Karon beach were raised last year when a team from the German television travel show Wir retten ihren urlaub (We Save Your Holiday) found contamination near a wastewater treatment plant.

Plant officials later admitted partially-treated water was sometimes allowed to flow into the sea when the plant failed to cope with the quantity of waste.

''We staked out the tank/wastewater treatment system for 24 hours, all through the night and day,'' said German documentary team leader Ralf Benko.

''During the day right in front of the tourists, the hatch opened and concentrated water came rushing out, with children and families playing around the discharge.''

Phuket's Governor Tri Augkaradacha worked with wastewater officials to persuade the media that the discharge was a rare event and that problems had since been overcome.

However, with another German television crew working on post-production for their documentary and the team from 'We Save Your Holiday' likely to return to Phuket this year to check that changes have been made, Phuket pollution may again pose a threat to Phuket tourism.

The 'We Save Your Holiday' team will be hoping to report that the problem has been fixed but the findings of the second German documentary team appear to cast some doubt.

Untreated water is also known to flow into the sea around Phuket from resorts that prefer to operate outside the law. Anti-pollution laws are seldom enforced.

With privatisation of Phuket's public sands by commercial interests of all kinds, including five-star resorts run by expats, Phuket's beaches remain in disturbing decline.

Phuketwan has proposed creation of an idependent authority to protect and maintain all of Phuket's beaches with the revenue that now goes into the pockets of illegal operators and corrupt local officials.

A second German television expose is likely to heighten the concern of European tourists and lead to some of them looking at alternative destinations.

The documentary makers may create interest away from the beaches as well. While on Phuket, a female reporter travelled on Phuket's tuk-tuks, both by day and by night. Her conclusions are not known.

Comments

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"With privatisation of Phuket's public sands by commercial interests of all kinds, including five-star resorts run by expats, Phuket's beaches remain in disturbing decline."
I find your comment "run by expats" both offensive and lacking in any journalistic standard.

Posted by mike on February 21, 2012 14:00

Editor Comment:

You're reacting like someone who has just encroached on a public beach somewhere, mike. Anything you can tell us about?

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Money is above all. Paradise destinations are overrun with Greed. Ad for Phuket.

Posted by Phuket_lover on February 21, 2012 14:13

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If the water quality on the named beaches is good at all times, then the local authorities have nothing to fear. However, if scientifically proven findings suggest otherwise, then it is time they cleaned up their act.

It would be unusual for TV documentary making companies to focus (with costs) on a wild goose chase. There would be no gain. This would appear to be the classic "there is no smoke without fire"!

Certainly the 'klong' that enters the sea at the north end of Karon Beach, which has a walkway running alongside, often smells less than attractive. The authorities need to investigate which businesses are dumping their waste directly into this 'klong', as it is for sure not pure rain water.

Posted by Logic on February 21, 2012 14:58

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Most of the water pollution on Phuket will be point source, so the culprits could be easily identified. However, not many people are willing to follow the trail to find out where and who it came from!

Posted by Matt on February 21, 2012 16:30

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So the Gov is due to get back on the round-a-bout again. Last time he assured the German film crew that this was not a regular thing and they were shown repairs had been made. The trouble is, like anything else, action is only ever taken when things go really wrong and then it's just window dressing for a short period. Not real planning or long term previsions.

So if the water is badly contaminated what then? Same old lip service, a bunch of the usual lies and cover ups and then business as usual.

So far this year I've managed to convince over 60 people not to come here for a holiday. I just couldn't bear to think of anyone I know coming here. What for? To be scammed, ripped off, beaten up, and the finale to swim in someones s***? I don't think so.

There are so many problems here, but with simply law and order 99% of them can be cleaned up straight away and then, and only then, would Phuket be a truly wonderful place to visit.

It never ceases to amaze me that the very people who benefit from tourism and so hell bent on destroying it.

Posted by Graham on February 21, 2012 18:45

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Those dam pesky European investigative journalists again, how dare they do the job that the local media should do but doesn't.Everything here on fantasy island is squeaky clean and perfectly above board no corruption here, how dare they report the facts to their citizens about the state of the sea they and their kinder are expected to swim in.I know lets try the famous Chinese tourist food poisoning trick on them you know a bung [ loads of money] and make them promise and cross their hearts not to say anything nasty about phuket, it might just work this time Mr Big.

Posted by Scunner on February 21, 2012 19:33

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Yanui beach would be another one to test for pollutants in the soil. Walk at the northern end barefoot and you are likely to get your feet stained with engine oil residue.

Sewage from the houses across the road runs untreated directly into the beach.

Posted by Steve C. on February 21, 2012 21:00

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It is an indication of the popularity and robustness of the Phuket tourism sector that a foreign documentary crew shows an interest. Unfortunately, it is also an indication of the lack of organization and overall planning of the local Phuket government that a foreign group has to push the local government to protect its principal assets of beaches and water quality. All it takes is for an outbreak of waterborne disease for the tourism industry to be dealt a crippling blow. Fortunately, with the advent of vaccines we do not see polio anymore, but it doesn't take much for serious ailments such as cholera and typhoid to occur. Of greater likelihood are low grade eye and GI tract infections, none of which meet the reporting thresholds for public health tracking. No one knows how many people become ill on a weekly basis in Phuket since these illnesses are under reported and not tracked until they reach epidemic proportions. I am not singling out Phuket, as even western beaches can suffer such outbreaks of diseases. The difference though is that many of these western beaches monitor their water and will intervene, unlike the local governments in Phuket. All it takes are a few irresponsible sewage dumpers to destroy the investments and good behaviour of the other hotels and resorts. The local governments really do need to listen to the local government medical officers that have been warning about this for years. Those medical officers in conjunction with some of the major resorts have presented plans and suggestions for dealing with the situation and they should be listened to, even if it means some vested interests have to invest some baht in taking care of their facilities' waste.

Posted by Ryan on February 29, 2012 20:32


Monday July 13, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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