Skip to main content

Thailand's Koh Samet beach oil spill 'threatens tourism, fishing industries'

By Tim Hume and Kocha Olarn, CNN
updated 9:03 PM EDT, Wed July 31, 2013
A major oil spill on Sunday, July 28, coated Ao Phrao beach on the popular tourist island of Koh Samet in northern Thailand. Authorities estimate that around 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of crude oil was leaked from an offshore pipeline belonging to PTT Global Chemical, Thailand's largest petrochemical producer, and 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) have washed onto the white sand beaches of the island. A major oil spill on Sunday, July 28, coated Ao Phrao beach on the popular tourist island of Koh Samet in northern Thailand. Authorities estimate that around 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of crude oil was leaked from an offshore pipeline belonging to PTT Global Chemical, Thailand's largest petrochemical producer, and 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) have washed onto the white sand beaches of the island.
HIDE CAPTION
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Photos: Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Photos: Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
Oil spill blackens Thai beach
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Oil leak threatens tourism and fishing industries, says Thai Deputy PM
  • Company responsible says does not know how leak occurred
  • Greenpeace fears dispersed oil sunk beneath water surface will have ongoing impact
  • One academic believes leak could be twice size admitted to by company

(CNN) -- An oil spill that prompted evacuations from one of Thailand's most popular tourist spots threatens the country's tourism and fishing industries, Thailand's deputy prime minister has warned, amid concerns about the long-term effects of the leak.

Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi said his country was ill-equipped to properly contain the leak, and authorities should seek assistance from neighboring countries such as Singapore, if necessary. He made the comments Tuesday during a trip to Mozambique, according to Thai government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi's Twitter page.

PTT Global Chemical, Thailand's largest petrochemical producer, admitted a leak had occurred after the waters at Ao Phrao (Phrao Bay) on the popular tourist island of Koh Samet were blackened with oil on Sunday, prompting evacuations of tourists.

50,000 liters of oil cover Thai beach

The company admitted that an estimated 50,000 liters of crude oil had leaked from an offshore pipeline around the area of Rayong's Map Ta Phut deep sea port Saturday.

The company's president, Bowon Vongsinudom, told CNN Tuesday that he did not know how the leak had occurred.

"That needs a lot of investigation," he said. "It should not happen at all... anyhow, it already happened therefore we need a lot of investigation by experts."

He said the clean-up, which also involved the efforts of the Royal Thai Navy and volunteers, was progressing well. "We can see developments which is much better. We can see now the white water."

But Greenpeace has said the clean-up efforts are just beginning, and the long-term impacts of the oil were yet to be appreciated.

Vongsinudom's account was "not the complete picture," said Greenpeace Thailand's program manager Ply Pirom. "We want to know the real impact of the oil leak, and a comprehensive investigation of the environmental impact is needed."

The clean-up effort had relied heavily on spraying the oil with dispersant, which made it sink below the water -- out of sight, but potentially harming marine life. "It's now under the sea, which will create a long term impact."

One Thai academic believes the leak could up to twice the size of that admitted by PTT Global Chemical.

Somporn Chuai-Aree, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Songklanakarin University, estimated the true size of the leak "could be from 75,000 liters up to 100,000 liters."

"We have to try to get a good estimate of the size of the leak, because it will affect the scale and preparation of the work the company needs to do to get the clean-up done," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:20 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
updated 8:24 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
About $35,000 was taken from the bank accounts of four passengers on board Flight 370.
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
updated 1:32 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
The execution of a journalist by a British-accented jihadist is a direct challenge to the international community. It's time for the U.S. to move, writes Frida Ghitis.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
updated 8:36 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
updated 5:04 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT