(29 July) Koh Samed, the
popular destination for Thais and foreigners alike, is facing a crisis for its tourism industry
after 50 tons of crude oil leaked onto its beaches, while a top official promised a lawsuit against
the oil company responsible for the leak.
The pipeline from which about 50,000 litres of oil
leaked is operated by PTT Global Chemical Plc. The leakage took place few days ago off the coast in
Rayong province, and the company failed to contain its area of damage until it reached Koh
Now, the sea and beaches in Samed′s Phrao Bay and Ban Pae Bay are covered in black,
inky stain with foul smell along their approximately 600 metre-long shoreline.
Although only 2 bays were
affected – so far – Koh Samed in general had become drastically quiet this morning after tourists
were warned about the leaked oil. Hotel staff told our correspondent that many tourists had
left their accommodation already, and many others had cancelled their scheduled
The current situation is harming our tourism
industry as a whole Mr. Sumet Saitong, Head Director of Khao Laem Ya National Park, which oversees
the small island.
Earlier today, Mr. Vichit Charnprasit, the governor of
Rayong Province, announced the state of maritime disaster around Koh Samed. The toll on the island′s
environment is not yet clear, but many expect it to be severe.
The Navy says
it has scouted the area on helicopters, and later revealed that the oil is now spreading along other
areas of Samet Island. Even more shocking news is that some of the leaked oil is now heading towards
the mainland coastline of Rayong province due to strong wind.
should “keep close look”, the Navy′s statement says.
The Navy has also deployed its troops to
cooperate with provincial authority of Rayong and PTT Global
Chemical in the clean-up effort. Officials and staff were seen using chemical substances and shovels to
dig up sand covered in the inky gel.
However, many officials acknowledged that the process
had been going very slowly. The Navy said that the clean-up process may take as
long as two weeks to get rid of the stain and the smell.
Mr. Wichien Jungrungrueng,
Director-General of Pollution Control Department (PCD), which reports to Ministry of Natural
Resources and Environment, said that he had visited the affected area and authorised use of chemical
substance to eliminate the crude oil.
The head of PCD says Phrao bay is the main focus for
the authorities at the moment, but they are also closely monitoring the spilled oil in the sea.
Mr. Wichien also told our correspondent that various agencies are looking to sue PTT
Global Chemical for the incident after they are done dealing with the situation and assessing side
effects from the crisis.
PTT will have to be responsible for this, as there are many laws to
abide by Mr. Wichien said, There are also many authorities to engage in the legal process, but
Marine Department would be the main plaintiff to submit the lawsuit against PTT for
Meanwhile, PTT Global Chemical Plc. had released 5 announcements concerning its
clean-up efforts, stating that the attempt had been systematic, and the company is assessing the
situation to make sure that the process had not harmfully affected the environmental any