May 5th, 2011
By Independent Mon News Agency – Residents in Three Pagodas Pass Township (TPP) living near mining sites in town are worried about the possible leak of poison from antimony stones. According to locals, the mining companies keep piles of the stones near their households.
Mining companies including Aung Mye Co. Ltd., Thabyu Co. Ltd., Mya Than Co. Ltd., Aung Shwe Co. Ltd., Narwarat Co. Ltd., and Thu Za Na Pwint have been mining antimony stones in the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)-controlled area at Brigade 6, which is about 30 kilometers from the town.
The companies started mining during the second week of March. After the companies drill antimony stones from KNLA areas, which are in the jungle, they then transport it to Three Pagodas Pass and store the stones near the community where people live before they export it to Thailand.
“They pile it at the land where the people are living. There are about eight places they have piles in town. At the big one there are about five or six hundred bags near 100 Poles Monastery (Tai Ta Yar in Burmese language).
They have stored the antimony carelessly. We are worried a lot about the poison,” said Naing Oo, a resident from Quarter 3 in Three Pagodas Pass.
The mining companies have been smuggling antimony stones at the border from Three Pagodas Pass to Thailand, which is illegal, and the companies have bribed the Burmese officials, according to eyewitnesses.
Many trucks pass the border in the early morning in hopes of going unnoticed. The Burmese border authorities have begun opening the border gates at 5 a.m., according to Thu Rain, another resident in the town.
There is a high demand for Burmese antimony from Thai civilians who sell it to Thai army generals, according to sources close to the companies.
The mining companies in Three Pagodas Pass have received permission from Naypyidaw to mine in the KNLA area. The KNLA demands taxes from the companies, which enables them to purchase arms and continue their civil war with the Burmese government troops.
In 2005, residents of Taung Wine at Quarter 4 in Three Pagodas Pass experienced health problems, including vomiting, headaches, and skin diseases, when poison leaked from an antimony factory into a pond the people used for water.
The factory where the leak occurred is called Thabyu Co. Ltd., and it has major mining investments in Three Pagodas Pass that are run by a Thai citizen. The Burmese authorities ordered the factory closed down following the leak.
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