CHONBURI — The mayor of a tourist seaside town on Tuesday said city officials are cleaning up litter at Bang Saen beach after a British blogger posted photos of beach trash there, which soon went viral on social media.
Narongchai Khunplome, mayor of Saen Suk municipality, also disputed the claim that tourists were liberally littering the beach. He said much of the garbage seen in the photos were dumped into rivers and the sea by urban residents, and then carried to Bang Saen by ocean current.
“We’re cleaning it up everyday,” Narongchai said by phone Tuesday. “Most of the trash comes from the water and then washes up on the beach. Only about 30 percent is litter from tourists.”
Photos of the trash-choked Bang Sean beach were posted by British expat Richard Barrow on Friday. Narongchai later wrote on his Facebook that the phenomenon occurs every year from July through September due to southwestern monsoon winds.
“I have seen this amount of trash since I was young. It hasn’t decreased at all,” Narongchai wrote. “Some days have huge amounts of trash due to strong winds and high waves.”
Most of the trash is traced to the Chao Phraya estuary that flows into the Gulf of Thailand.
“Trash is coming from the ocean, from people who throw trash into city canals and into roads and they end up into the sea,” the mayor wrote. “It never changes. Poor Bang Saen, having to be the trash can for all this.”
A sea turtle pregnant with more than 200 eggs died on Bang Saen Beach from ingesting too much plastic, Narongchai said.
On Saturday, Barrow tweeted his concern that his photos may cause him troubles when he renews his visa.
“Memo to future self: Try and not post anything controversial two weeks before your extension of stay in Thailand is about to expire,” he wrote.
However, Narongchai said by phone that he held no grudge against the Briton.
“I had more of an issue with more political pages that reshared the post, not Richard himself,” the mayor said.
Bang Saen beach reopened in June along with other beaches in the Chonburi region after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.