By AP and published by The Washington Post and Sanook.com
OFFICIALS extensively checked various beaches and bays at Rayong and Koh Samet today (Jan. 28) after an undersea pipeline leaked 400,000 litres of crude oil into the sea near Map Ta Phut earlier this week but that found conditions are still normal and unpolluted, Sanook.com said.
The survey was undertaken by the research section of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and officials of Khao Laem Ya National Park after Star Petroleum Refining Plc’s undersea pipeline started leaking crude oil into the sea on Tuesday Jan. 25 with oil sticks expected to reach Mae Ram Phueng beach area.
According to the Washington Post the oil leak from an undersea hose at an offshore mooring point used to load tankers was stopped early Wednesday morning, but not before 140 to 375 barrels, or between about 22,000 and 60,000 litres, spilled into the Gulf of Thailand, according to Star Petroleum Refining, the operating company.
There are now two slicks, a small one about one square kilometre that is closer to the coast and another that has broadened to 47 square kilometres that is not far behind it, said Siam Lawawirojwong, director of the department that deals with disasters at Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.
The Royal Thai Navy, which has been part of the cleanup and containment effort, said the main slick is expected to reach an area of coast including the Khao Laem Ya National Park by about 10 p.m. The park is home to a variety of seabirds and fish.
In preparation, floating booms were being deployed to try and trap the oil and contain it so that it can be collected from the surface and removed.
However officials who inspected coral reefs at Koh Samet’s Ao Prao by line intercept transect method and mounted spot checks at Khao Laem Ya, Ao Pla Tom, Ao Kiew Nai and Ao Lung Dam found they were in normal condition with no oil stains or tar balls on them.
Examination of seagrass at Khao Laem Ya National Park and Ban Phe Bay also found that they too are in normal condition with no oil stains on the leaves nor films of oil on the surface of the sea.
An extensive inspection of the environmental health of coral ecosystem at Ao Prao, Ao Kiew Nai and Ao Lung Dam and beaches from Saeng Chan to Mae Ram Phueng, a total distance of 22 kilometres, found that the seawater was normal and odourless with no oil slick on the surface and nor had the beaches been contaminated with no dead sea animals found.
An official inspecting coral reefs in Rayong today (Jan. 28), top, and the unpolluted Saeng Chan beach. The Thai headline says, “Watching out for oil slick.” Photos: Sanook.com