Fri, August 22, 2014
By Khaosod English
29 July 2013, Last upated at 20:59 GMT
PTT Global Chemical To Be Sued For Koh Samed Oil Spill: Official

(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 Samed.

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 stays.

"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.

Relevant authorities 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 compensation"

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 further.