Local authorities yesterday filed a charge against two operators involved in the transfer of tapioca from barges to a cargo ship near Koh Sichang in Chon Buri for causing pollution.
The legal action was taken while the officials led by Koh Sichang mayor Damrong Petra were looking into a complaint from local fishermen that the grab loading of tapioca was damaging the environment.
According to the complaint, the operators used grabs for loading and as the commodity was being dropped onto the vessel, large quantities of tapioca dust were falling into the sea and filling the air.
As the authorities approached the scene, they found two barges at work and tapioca dust falling into the sea as reported. A large area was also covered with dust.
The officials, including the police, boarded the barges to inspect the operation and interviewed the workers who were also asked to undergo a drug test.
Nine of the workers tested positive for methamphetamine while two of them were employed without permission from authorities.
According to officials, the pair were aged 15 to 18 and their employment should have been approved by authorities under labour protection laws.
The operators of the loading operation were initially charged with illegal dumping into the sea causing pollution, an offence under laws governing Thai waters.
Mr Damrong yesterday called on business operators involved in the ship-to-ship transfer of commodities to focus more on social responsibility and consider ways of curbing pollution.