Oil spill threatens corals in eastern Thailand

Minister of
Natural Resources and the Environment Varawut Silpa-archa said it was crucial
to try to prevent the main mass of oil from reaching the shore at Ao Prao, a
small bay on Koh Samet, which is a popular resort island.

“If the
oil reached inside this area it could impact the beach and cause heavy damage
to the shallow water corals,” Varawut said.

The oil
began leaking from a pipeline owned by Star Petroleum Refining Public Company
Limited (SPRC) late on Tuesday.

Before it
was brought under control, an estimated 50,000 litres (13,209 gallons) of oil
escaped into the ocean 20 km (12 miles) from the coastline of eastern Thailand.

Ramphueng Beach in Rayong province declared a disaster area after some oil came
ashore there late on Friday.

The latest
satellite image from the government’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology
Development Agency (GISTDA) showed the oil spill has spread to cover 67 sq km
(25.87 sq miles) area of the sea.

Most of the
oil had formed a thin film rather than a thick oil slick, navy spokesman Vice
Admiral Pokkrong Monthatphalin told reporters, citing aerial photographs.

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