Koh Tao to tackle massive garbage mountain

An image of the dumpsite, which is causing a foul smell and is an eyesore, on the popular Koh Tao off Surat Thani province. Local officials have failed to deal with the 50,000-tonne waste at the site

SURAT THANI - A "garbage mountain" is taking shape on Koh Tao after years of poor waste management and provincial authorities are stepping in to help local officials solve the problem now too big for them.

New Surat Thani governor Auychai In-nark on Monday led provincial authorities to inspect a landfill on Koh Tao in Phangan district, where 50,000 tonnes of garbage was dumped, and to listen to waste-management problems from the resort island's municipal officials.

The dumpsite, located on a four-rai plot in Moo 3 village, is emitting a foul smell and becomes an eyesore as it can be clearly seen from the view point on the mountain.

The Koh Tao tambon municipality said a lack of fully functional equipment and the failure of a private contractor were to blame for the problem.

The waste incinerator broke down in 2013 and has yet to be fully repaired, it said. At the same time, SEM-BQ, the waste management contractor, has failed to dispose of the garbage by the amount required in the contract.

The municipality did not renew the contract with the company when it expired on Aug 15.

After the inspection tour, Mr Auychai, who took his job last month, said the provincial public works department would build a large landfill on a private property on the island to bury the garbage.

“This is only a temporary cure because the amount of the garbage is massive,” he said. “[The pit] is expected to take about a year to build.”

The governor vowed to lead efforts to quickly deal with the issue on the popular tourist island and said a sustainable and effective waste management policy would be implemented.

Kobchai Saowalak, kamnan of tambon Koh Tao, said the amount of rubbish from residents and tourists increased to 30 tonnes daily from only 3-5 tonnes in the past. The campaign to separate waste was also not successful, making the disposal rather difficult.

“After the incinerator broke down, the amount of the garbage accumulated to 50,000 tonnes and continued to increase until it surpassed the local agency’s capacity,” Mr Kobchai said.

Koh Tao, a 21-square-kilometre island, is a subdistrict of Koh Phangan. Known for its beautiful bays, beaches and dive spots, it is visited by an estimated 3 million tourists each year, generating revenue of about 10 billion baht.

Koh Tao to tackle massive garbage mountain | Bangkok Post: news