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Suriya: 5,000-litre slick to be cleared Thursday

Boats deploy linked buoys in a bid to contain the oil spill off Rayong on Wednesday. (Photo: Royal Thai Navy)
Boats deploy linked buoys in a bid to contain the oil spill off Rayong on Wednesday. (Photo: Royal Thai Navy)

Some 5,000 litres of oil slick off Rayong province should be cleared up on Thursday after an estimated 50,000 litres of crude oil leaked from an undersea pipeline near Map Ta Phut on Tuesday, Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed concern over its impact on the environment, residents and tourism, and has ordered relevant ministries to urgently look into it, Mr Suriya said on Thursday.

Star Petroleum Refining Public Company Limited, which owns the pipeline, had sent a team of divers to check the site.

After personnel and equipment had been mobilised to contain the oil spill, the remaining 5,000 litres should be cleared by Thursday, said the industry minister.

The oil spill would not affect local people and tourism, particularly Mae Ram Phueng beach, he said.

He said a panel comprising the Marine Department, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Public Health Ministry and the Industry Ministry will investigate the oil leak and draw up measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident.

Deputy Minister of Public Health Sathit Pitutecha said a previous leak at Ao Phrao in July 2013 had caused a wide impact. As for Tuesday’s leak, he said the situation should be controllable after having checked the amount of oil slick, wind and waves.

He has called on all relevant agencies to follow up on its impact on the economy, the people’s quality of life and the environment.

Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) governor Veeris Ammarapala said an aerial survey showed the oil spill was heading towards the coast, about 10 kilometres away. Efforts were made to contain it.

SPRC would assess its movement and use oil skimmers. Bacteria would also be used to break down the oil, as suggested by the Pollution Control Department.

“IEAT has instructed the firm to increase safety and bring in more equipment to efficiently solve the problem. Everything will be done today (Jan 27). There are reports that the oil spill is moving closer to the coast. Teams have been deployed to survey areas along beaches that may be affected. But I assure you that the situation is not severe like the incident in 2013,” said the IEAT governor.

Pongkorn Chochuwong, manager of SPRC’s safety system, environment and occupational health, said the firm had sprayed dispersants on the oil spill, with cooperation from the First Naval Area.

The company was willing to take responsibility and remedy those who were affected. A hotline number 038 699 090 was set up to receive complaints from affected residents around the clock, said Mr Pongkorn.

Earlier, Marine and Coastal Resources Department director-general Sopon Thongdee said efforts were underway on Wednesday to clear up about 160,000 litres of crude oil.

Earlier on Thursday, the Royal Thai Navy said the oil spill will take at least five more days to clear.

Reference