Villagers and fisherfolk in Chon Buri province have spotted an oil slick and tarballs which they suspect are from the PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) oil spill off Rayong late last month.
Somnuk Jongmeewasin, a member of the Friends of the East civic group, said an oil slick and tarballs _ globs of crude oil mixed with sand _ were found earlier this week off tambons Na Jomthien and Bang Saray of Sattahip district, and Ao Udom of Sri Racha district.
The areas, which are about 135 kilometres from Rayong's Koh Samet, are famous for their seafood and tourism.
"We believe the oil slick has been swept from neighbouring Rayong province," Mr Somnuk said. "But we can not conclude whether it is from the oil spill site."
The activist said he alerted provincial officials and local environmental officials to the oil slick.
Laem Chabang municipality councillor Somyot Chiaokun oversees the Ao Udom area. He inspected the location on Thursday and later told health officials to collect samples of tarballs for testing and to find out where they came from.
The oil slick off Ao Phrao was submerged by chemical dispersant after the spill, but strong sea currents and winds could have pulled the oil to Ao Udom, Mr Somyot said.
Chief of the Department of Marine Science of the faculty of fisheries at Kasetsart University, Thon Thamrongnawasawat, said he could not tell at the moment whether the tarballs came from the PTTGC oil slick.
Tarballs often appear near the cargo port as oil from cargo ships often leaks and mixes with sand, he said on his Facebook page yesterday.
He urged local authorities and residents in the area to keep an eye out for more of the tarballs on local beaches.
Noppon Srisuk, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, said he has not received reports about the appearance of tarballs in Chon Buri.
However, he said it is unlikely that the oil and tarballs came from Rayong province because the distance between the two locations is too far. "It is not unusual to find these tarballs on beaches," he said. "Oil from fishing boats and other activities can create tarballs too."
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