After 16 years of struggling for justice, the Supreme Court has ordered the company party responsible for the leak of cobalt-60 radiation to pay slightly more than half a million baht in total to 12 victims seriously affected by the leak.
The Civil Court on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok, on Wednesday, 8 June 2016, read the Supreme Court ruling on the case in which 12 people seriously affected by the leak of cobalt-60 radiation sued Kamol Sukosol Electric, a company importing medical equipment.
Confirming earlier ruling of the lower court, the Supreme Court ordered the company and five persons affiliated with the company to pay 12 victims of the radiation leak, the plaintiffs in the case, 640,270 baht with interests. The amount is in stark contrast to the almost 13 million baht initially demanded by the victims.
The Supreme Court ruling does not require the company to provide additional compensation for Sathian Phankhan whose son died from incident.
The cobalt radiation leak occurred in Phra Pradaeng District of Samut Prakan in February 2000. Used radiotherapy equipment containing cobalt-60 was left in an empty parking lot from where it was stolen and taken to a scrap dealer’s in Phra Pradaeng, where the equipment was broken up for scrap. At least 12 people became seriously affected by radiation from the radiation therapy unit. The effect on the victims included amputation of the hands, paralysis and skin disease, not to mention a few deaths.
Surachai Throngngam, attorney for the 12 victims, said that the Supreme Court’s ruling ordered the company to pay for only a fraction of what was initially requested by his clients because the court reasoned that the Administrative Court in 2006 already awarded the 12 victims 6 million baht in compensation from the Office of Atomic Energy for Peace, the government regulatory agency.
“The compensation awarded by the Administrative Court earlier was taken into consideration in the civil lawsuit, which is problematic because the polluters are not held responsible or only minimally responsible for their actions,” said Surachai.
Supaporn Malailoy, Manager of EnLaw Foundation, an environmental protection and rights advocacy group, believes that the compensation which the court demanded from the company is much too small for a serious radiation leak.
Chitrasen Chansakha, one of the 12 victims who lost both hands from the incident, said that he is disappointed with the ruling.
“The effect of the cobalt-60 radiation caused the amputation of both of my hands. I received 1.9 million baht compensation in total from the Administrative Court ruling, but the company [is ordered] to pay only 40,000 baht,” said Chitrasen.
Some of the victims of the cobalt-radiation leakage in front of the Civil Court, Bangkok, on 8 June 2016
Jittasaen Chansaka, one of the 12 victims who lost both hands from the incident