More vessels deployed to prevent oil slick from reaching beaches
Ten additional vessels have been deployed in a major clean-up operation in the seas off Rayong following an oil leak late Tuesday, while fishing boats are laying booms to prevent the oil from reaching the beaches and the Moo Koh Samet-Khao Laem Ya national park, where it would harm coral reefs and marine species.
The report from Rayong, issued at 11.40 am this morning (Friday), said slicks of crude oil were 3.2 kilometres from the coast in the Gulf, but that about 90% of the oil has been reduced to a film after being exposed to chemical dispersants.
Using satellite tracking, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) said yesterday evening that the oil slicks cover an estimated 47 square kilometres of the sea’s surface, about nine times of the size of Samet Island, and were about 6.5 kilometres from the coast of Muang district and 12 kilometres from Samet Island. It predicted that some of the oil will reach the shoreline today.
Stressing the need to protect coral reefs and other marine species around the national park, as well as the beaches, Pollution Control Department chief Attapol Charoenchansa said today that it has been decided by the command centre to deploy ten more vessels to help the existing five to spray dispersants.
The booms, being laid by the fishing vessels, extend for three kilometres and the dispersant air drop operation has been suspended temporarily, he said.
He said the Marine Department has also mobilised small vessels with pumps to suck oil from the surface of the sea, to be disposed of later, adding that crews and equipment have also been deployed to trap oil film and to help clean up the beaches if oil spills reaches them.
Director-General of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department Sophon Thongdee said today that divers have not yet found any trace of oil on coral reefs and sea grass in the areas of Khao Laem Ya and Ban Pe Bay.
Meanwhile, some hotels and resorts on the Gulf coast are reporting cancellations due to the recent oil spill and sighting of a possible oil slick near the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province has been confirmed by authorities to be, in fact, just plankton, which can cause the water to appear greener than usual and produce an unpleasant odour.