Of the upcoming projects at Map Ta Phut (the world's eighth-biggest petrochemicals hub) that have been stalled since September, 11 major projects have been allowed by a Thai court to resume on Wednesday. However, the remaining 65 projects have been stalled on environmental concerns by an order of the Central Administrative Court. The order encompassed suspension of operations at 76 industrial projects worth US$9 bln at Map Ta Phut. The court ruling allowed temporary resumption at 11 projects with an estimated value of US$1.1 bln, until an independent body is appointed to fully assess the environmental and health impact. Projects deemed safe for the environment and allowed to operate include those of India's Aditya Birla Chemicals, PTT Aromatics and Refining, PTT Chemical, Siam Cement, unlisted refiner Star Petroleum Refining, a joint venture of Chevron and PTT, along with Thai firm Indorama Petrochem.
The verdict has failed to dispel uncertainty over the estate and has stirred negative investor sentiment. Before 2007, industrial plants needed only EIA approval at Map Ta Phut. After amendments under the 2007 constitution, companies need approval for new industrial projects that might be harmful to people and the community necessitating an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and a health impact assessment (HIA) which includes public hearings. Most upcoming projects at the estate complied with EIA rules but failed to abide by HIA requirements because the government had not yet set up an independent organisation to oversee the health impact.