The Mon State government will examine the environmental impact of commercial shipping on the Gulf of Mottama and the Thanlwin (Salween) River in the Mon State, the state Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment announced.
The inspections will be conducted by the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the Climate Change Supervisory Committee, with the assistance of related departments.
Mon State Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dr Min Kyi Win explained that the inspections will be carried out with an eye towards limiting environmental damage caused by oil tankers and coal cargo ships.
He noted the risk of tankers and cargo ships capsizing due to changes in river currents, or of accidental damage caused by overloaded ships pass under the two bridges that span the river.
“These ships are carrying coals and other stuff — we don’t know [what they are carrying]. Are these ships following the procedures of the environmental impact assessment?” Dr Min Kyi win asked. “For example, when the oil tankers running [on the river], where are they transporting [the oil], how much oil are they carrying, and what have they done to prevent against oil spills?” he added.
According to the state minister, the Mon State government has instructed port authorities to begin inspections after establishing the number of ship entries and departures.
U Zay Ya, state port officer at Myanmar Port Authority, confirmed that port officials had informed the owners of ships operating on the Thanlwin River about the forthcoming inspections on October 9.
Approximately 20 ships travel along the Thanlwin River every day, according to Dr Min Kyi Win.