Oil spill off the coast of Thailand’s Koh Samet Island causes environmental disaster

indexPipeline leak releases 50,000 litres of crude oil into the Gulf of Thailand. Some of the oil reaches the coast of Rayong province. On Ao Phrao beach, tourist office warns of a pending catastrophe.Bangkok  – Some 50,000 litres of crude oil leaked from a pipeline on Saturday into the Gulf of Thailand, reaching Ao Phrao beach, a tourist resort southeast of Bangkok.

“Ao Phrao is the most important coral site on the western side of Koh Samet,” said Thon Thamrong-nawasawat, a marine science expert at Kasetsart University’s faculty of fisheries.

Since most local coral reef is hump coral which grows very slowly at 1-4 centimetres a year, “We don’t know how long it will take to recover from the impacts of this spill and how much damage has been caused there,” he added.

The oil slick formed about 20 kilometres off the coast of the eastern province of Rayong, drifting for 35 kilometres towards Koh Samet Island, a tourist resort near Bangkok, famous for its white beaches.

For Rayong Province Governor Wichit Chartpaisit, PTT Global Chemical Pcl, the company that operates the pipeline, has to bear all responsibility for the incident and environmental disaster.

“It was beyond our expectation because we thought we could mitigate the damage quickly but it spread to other areas,” PTT Global Chemical CEO Anon Sirisaengtaksin said. “As the head of PTTGC, I accept the blame for causing damage to the environment,” he added. PTT Global Chemical Pcl is part of state-controlled PTT Pcl.

PTTGC executive vice-president Porntep Butniphant said the oil slick at Ao Phrao amounted to only 10 per cent.

“We’ve had some hotel cancellations on Samet,” Rayong Province Tourism Authority Director Chuchart Oncharoen said. “Whether this has a long-term impact on the island depends on how quickly PTT cleans up the mess.”

As of yesterday, 500 employees of a power company, and 200 navy soldiers were engaged in relief work in the area, but local authorities have said that it is not possible yet to estimate how quickly the area will be restored.

Ti è piaciuto l'articolo? Sostienici con un "Mi Piace" qui sotto nella nostra pagina Facebook