Update: 30th July 2013 - Reports are now coming in that Ban Phe Beach has also been devastated by the oil slick as it moves east. Authorities are meeting with tour operators who say this will almost certainly have a significant impact on tourism to the island. Some 50,000 litres of crude oil is now causing havoc for the area and officials are drafting in more military personnel to help with the clean up.
OIL SPILL DEVASTATES KOH SAMUI BEACH THAILAND – An oil leak from a pipeline belonging to PPT Global Chemical, a Thai owned Oil Company, has caused widespread damage along the Ao Phrao Bay; one of the major tourist beaches on the island of Koh Samet.
PTT reported the oil spill on Saturday morning which was situated some 20 kilometres off the coast of Rayong. PTT attempted to contain the spill with oil boon barriers but a large proportion of the spill escaped their efforts.
Currently officials have closed the Phrao Bay beach to the public and are estimating between 3 and 15 days before all the crude oil is cleaned up.
The island of Koh Samet has officially been declared a disaster area according by the Governor of Rayon, Wichit Chatphaisit, who stated that all efforts are being made to contain the spread of the oil spill to other parts of the island.
Approximately 500 officials from the Pollution Control Department (PCD), the Department of Environment Quality Promotion (DEQP) and PTT are on the scene and co-coordinating efforts to clean up the beaches. A number of Army units have also been drafted in to assist in the clean up.
Officials have reported that no marine life has yet to be affected yet despite this statement some environmental activists were quick to respond by stating that the island was already devoid of much marine life and corals are mostly dead due to the environmental rape by illegal fishing that authorities continuously turn a blind eye to.
The environmental activists also went on to say that with Hotels, Restaurants and Bars continuously pumping raw sewage into the sea it’s likely the oil spill won’t have much of an effect as there is almost no marine life existing due to the years of abuse.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was quick to respond to the spill; declaring that tourist figures had not been affected in any way. One local responded to meebal.com with this statement;
“It’s typical of the TAT to come out with a report that everything is rosy. This island was once a stunning haven. Unfortunately once the Thais figured out it was worth money the rape of the environment began and it’s unlikely to stop until this place is devoid of any tourists.”
The oil spill has now spread over 8 kilometres west of Ao Phroa, hitting the Western Coast of Samet Island.
An environmental organization, Stop Global Warming Association, yesterday called on the Thai Government to demand compensation from PTT and if it failed to do so it would bring a civil action against them.
The Thai Government has yet to respond but is assuring the public that the priority is to first clean up the beaches and other areas that are affected.
PTT president Bown Vongsin-udom made a statement to the press yesterday vowing to ensure the oil is cleaned up and that the beach and other affected areas would be returned to normal as soon as possible.
The Minister of Energy, Pongsak Ruktapong-pisal told the press that a full fact-finding committee is being set up and will be headed by PTT Chairman Prasert Bunsumpun and will determine the cause of the spill.
Environmental impact groups quickly ridiculed the Thai Government stating that allowing PTT’s chairman to head the committee is like putting the cat among the pigeons and is unlikely to produce any tangible results other than PTT avoiding any financial penalties.
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