CHIANG RAI – Workers at a Hongta International a Chinese-owned banana plantation in Chiang Rai’s Phraya Meng Rai district have tested have been contaminated with an unusually high level of chemicals.
The action comes after reports of a sizeable number of banana-plantation workers in northern Laos falling sick. It was suspected chemicals used by the Chinese firm were responsible.
Blood-test results by the Phaya Mengrai Hospital showed 10 of the workers were in the risky condition, while 13 had already reached unsafe contamination levels.
“It’s possible that if consumers don’t wash vegetables thoroughly, they might absorb chemicals,” Phaya Meng Rai district chief Phubet Julayanont said yesterday. “We have to investigate further to determine the exact cause of the contamination”.
Tuanchai Walaisuk, the chief of workers at Hongta International, insisted the plantation under his supervision did not use the chemicals the Chinese initially wanted to utilise.
The Mekong-Lanna nature conservation network has accused the Chinese plantation in tambon Phya Meng Rai of heavy use of pesticides and water from Mae Ing creek. However, the accusation needs to be verified and an investigation is warranted in order to nip the problem in the bud.
Tuanchai said banana plantations in Chiang Rai used pesticides that were widely used in Thailand.