Hundreds of beachside businesses claim compensation over oil spill impacts

Rayong’s Muang district officials started receiving claims for compensation today (Tuesday), from business people affected by the recent oil spill, as health officials took blood and urine samples from 241 people involved in last week’s clean-up of the oil for tests.

More than 200 business operators, including resort and food shop owners, showed up to register for compensation from a mobile unit sent to Mae Ram Phueng beach by the Damrongtham Centre of the Rayong’s Muang district office to receive claims on the spot.

It is not known how much compensation each will receive, but all of them have been affected by room cancellations and the disappearance of tourists, especially during the Chinese New Year festival.

A preventive boom still remains in the sea near the beaches and red flags are being flown to warn people not to swim due to rough seas, although no traces of the oil have been detected.

Although unaffected by the oil spill, businesses as a whole on Samet Island have also been affected by a sharp drop in tourist numbers due to concerns over the spill.

According to Director-General of the Disease Control Department Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong, the blood and urine tests are to ensure that the workers are safe.

During the clean-up operation, he said that special face masks had also been provided to the workers and members of the public, to protect them from inhaling chemicals emitted from the crude oil.

Last week, crude oil from an offshore pipeline of Star Petroleum Refining PCL leaked into the sea and some washed ashore on Mae Ram Phueng beach, prompting a clean-up operation involving hundreds of sailors from the Royal Thai Navy and officials from the Marine and Coastal Resources and Pollution Control Departments.

Dr. Opart said that health inspectors have checked the level of Benzene and Xylene in the atmosphere on Mae Ram Phueng beach, but found the two chemicals are still within the standard level, adding that no traces of crude oil have been detected on the beach from Mae Ram Phueng to Lan Hin Khao beach.

Patches of a thin film of oil have been found floating on the sea’s surface, from Lan Hin Khao beach to Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park.

Residents, resort and store owners as well as their staff have been advised to stay away from the affected beach and to refrain from eating dead fish or other marine life found on the beach. They should also see a doctor if they develop symptoms such as a headache, nausea, eye irritation, skin inflammation or breathing difficulties.

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