Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Investigation of Aquatic Environment and Social Aspects of Thermal Power Plant Operation in Southern of Thailand

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Investigation of Aquatic Environment and Social Aspects of Thermal Power Plant Operation in Southern of Thailand

Article excerpt


Community acceptance and public participation play essential role in sustainable energy development. This study aimed to investigate the current situations of the aquatic environment and social aspects of Chana thermal power plant operation in Songkhla province of Thailand. Water quality, plankton, macro benthic fauna and fish larvae in the Na Thap River were monthly examined from January 2013 to December 2013. Moreover, 410 of villager households were selected to interview. The results revealed that water quality index can be classified as fairly clean fresh surface water resources used for consumption, but requires special water treatment process before using and for industry. Change of river's flow direction will be increased potential of saltwater intrusion into the freshwater zone in dry season, and about 3% of annual upstream fish catch decrease, was identified. Of the 410 sampled households, most of the respondents were farmers (48.6%), employees (21.1%), local traders (17.8%) and fishermen (5.1%). Most of them (61.4%) had a monthly income 500 USD. About 77.8% of respondents complained that they and family members got sick annually. The majority of 86.6% expressed that they agreed to the power plant operation because of increasing economic growth and community development enabling. Only 13.4% have protested against the project because of environmental impact concerns and livelihood deterioration issues. Our findings indicated that aquatic environmental quality range suitable for the protection of aquatic life and sustaining biodiversity. Overall EGAT's community service programs were highly satisfied. Establishing guidelines for collaboration among the authorities and community's acceptance for reaching countryside happiness are our suggested.

Keywords: community concerns, ecosystem monitoring, local livelihood, thermal pollution, Chana thermal power plant, Na Thap River, Thailand

1. Introduction

Electrical energy is recognized as the backbone of the countries' infrastructure for supporting socioeconomic development. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) operates as a state-owned enterprise involved in the generation and transmission of electricity for the whole country. In the southern region of Thailand, Chana thermal power plant located in Songkhla province was approved by the Cabinet according to the resolution of the National Energy Policy Board to construct since 2004 and have commercially transmitted electricity to the grid since 2007.

This power plant is designed to utilize the 140-mile offshore indigenous natural gas of Trans Thai-Malaysia (Thailand) Limited, (TTM), from the natural gas separation plant in the Chana district. This 731.8 MW-combined cycle power plant consists of two main engines; the 242.3 MW of gas turbine and the 247.2 MW of steam turbine. The power plant has consumed the massive water volume approximately 38,880 cubic meters daily from the upstream of the Na Thap River for mechanical cooling system and then discharges warm water into the waters. Fish and shellfish larvae are not strong enough to survive in the water flow occurring at cooling water intakes as well as heated water effluents. Water temperature strongly affects aquatic living organism, particularly dramatic effects on physiological rates (Coulter et al., 2014). Consequently, it may damage or spoil the aquatic ecosystem and fisheries resources and so directly affect the livelihoods of farmer households around the Na Thap River watershed (Chesoh, 2011). Effect of cooling water discharge from many types of industry and energy production in the natural waters is a major worldwide environmental crisis (Felson, 2013). The Na Thap River watershed reflects one of the highest biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems in Thailand (Saheem et al., 2014). Actually, tropical aquatic ecosystem has a very high biodiversity of valuable flora and fauna and this biodiversity provides numerous benefits for human welfare, including sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with food, health, wealth, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on. …

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