A preliminary environmental impact study has started at two sites in Chanthaburi and Songkhla, Thailand that have been deemed promising for an upstream steel project.

The study is expected to take six months and if the cabinet approves the results, it would notify prospective investors and ask them to prepare investment plan and details on contributions the ventures would make to communities.

The site in Chanthaburi is 70% forest area while the remaining land was formerly a prawn farm. The location, near industrial plants that need steel products, offers the site an advantage. However, additional work needs to be done to improve ship access.

The site in Songkhla offers seaport facilities but is a long way from industrial customers. It currently houses a rice farm and an old prawn farm.

According to Vikrom Vajragupta, director of the Iron and Steel Institute of Thailand, the study would cover the establishment of community livelihood development programmes such as irrigation projects, water treatment and farm machinery centres to help local communities coexist with the industry.

Source: Bangkok Post, 28 Sept 2009