WITH oil from the an undersea pipeline that leaked 400,000 litres of crude into the sea near Map Ta Phut earlier this week having washed up on parts of Mae Ram Phueng beach in Rayong province before dawn today (Jan. 29) a senior official warned that a bigger mass is just three kilometres away and will soon reach the shore, TV Channel 7 and Matichon newspaper said.
Mr. Atthaphon Charoenchansa, head of the Pollution Control Department, said two spots of Mae Ram Phueng beach, Hin Dam an Hin Khao but particularly the former, were blackened with oil for a distance of a kilometre each.
What has reached the beach so far is what leaked from a boom in the middle of the sea with this being a very small amount with a bigger mass following and cleanup is being accelerated.
This larger mass is three kilometres from the shore and four kilometres from Khao Laem Ya National Park and with the wind and waves being strong today might wash up sooner than expected.
More buoys and dispersants have been added to combat the oil spillage while onshore paper is being used to mop it up but vacuum cleaners used at denser areas and trenches too have been dug to drain the oil in certain spots.
However locals said the pollution of Mae Ram Phueng beach opposite Bay View Resort is already two kilometres long and the outlook is for oil slicks to continuously wash up and contaminate the whole 10-kilometre stretch of this beach.
The spilled oil has turned the sea black with blobs of congealed oil washing up ashore continuously and giving off a foul smell.
Later staff from Star Petroleum Refining Plc came to collect samples to check while some officials also moved in and used a special material to absorb the oil slicks but because of the large amounts that have reached the shore the cleanup is a difficult task.
Mrs. Walailak Wittayanukroh, 57 , owner of Bay View Resort, said that oil slicks started washing up on the beach early in the morning. When she woke up she was shocked to see the amount that had reached the beach while urging officials to quickly clean up the slicks otherwise the whole beach would be contaminated.
Oil slicks washing up on Mae Ram Phueng beach in Rayong today. All photos: Matichon