A controversial project to build a new port and petrochemical factories in Chon Buri's Laem Chabang area on reclaimed land will undergo a strict Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the permanent secretary for natural resources and environment insisted on Monday.
"The plan is said to cover between 1,000 and 3,000 rai of ocean area, which is large enough for the project developer to be required to conduct an EIA," Wijarn Simachaya said on Monday.
"The EIA will suggest ways to mitigate any severe impact on the environment. Coral reefs located along the country's eastern coast must also be taken into consideration," Mr Wijarn said.
Activist Srisuwan Janya had recently warned of likely negative effects on marine resources, coastal fishing and tourism near Laem Chabang if the plan receives the green light.
It appears to have been "done in favour of foreign companies, which violates the constitution", claimed Mr Srisuwan, who is also president of the Stop Global Warming Association.
The project would see the construction of plastic pellet plants, an upstream industry which is not in line with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), he said.
Under the EEC, the government hopes to turn parts of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao into a hub for high-tech industries, including next-generation cars and smart electronics.
An initial inspection of the area eyed for the new petrochemical facilities found it is about 10 kilometres away from coral reef covering 271 rai in Koh Si Chang, a popular resort islet among tourists in Chon Buri, according to Mr Wijarn.
Though the National Resources and Environment Ministry cannot make a decision on whether to approve the project, it is authorised by law to prevent any unpleasant impacts on the environment, ministry spokesman Sophon Thongdi said on Monday.