Tourists and residents were evacuated from Thailand’s Phrao Bay Tuesday after an estimated 5,000 liters of crude oil washed up on the island. The oil leaked into the ocean from an offshore pipeline owned and operated by PTT Global Chemical, the nation’s largest petrochemical producer.
An estimated 50,000 liters (13,000 gallons) have spilled into the ocean since the line ruptured on July 27, according to National Geographic. Some Thai officials fear it could be much worse than reported. “If that (50,000 litres) was the real amount, they should have already eliminated it, they should have solved the problem fast enough before it reached Samet island,” said Sathit Pitutacha of Thailand’s Democrat Party.
Film from the floating crude oil has spread over eight kilometres West of Ao Phrao, on the Western coast of Samet, and about 400 meters into the bay, Saithong said. Koh Samet, about three kilometres off the coast of Rayong, is a popular getaway for Bangkok residents. The island attracts about one million visitors a year, mostly on weekends.
PTT Global Chemical says they have deployed oil booms to contain the spill and are using oil dispersants. They also say that the Thai Navy has joined some 300 PTT workers in cleaning up the area.
Provincial authorities have declared Prao Bay a disaster zone, but said that more popular beaches on the island’s east coast remain untouched. There is concern, however, that if not contained soon the slick could spread to beaches across the island and on the nearby mainland.
Authorities said it would take some time to assess the environmental damage caused by the spill. However, the tourism industry has already felt some impact. “The black waves have been rolling in since Sunday night and by yesterday morning the beach was all tainted with oil,” Kevin Wikul, a Front Desk Assistant at a resort in Ao Phrao, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.
Courtesy of noonsite.com