Island of trash drifts to Prachuap Khiri Khan

Island of trash drifts to Prachuap Khiri Khan

The trash monster first spotted by fisherman Noppadon Thintaeb off Chumphon has drifted on to Prachuap Khiri Khan. (Photos courtesy of the 1st Naval Area Command and Noppadon Thintaeb)
The trash monster first spotted by fisherman Noppadon Thintaeb off Chumphon has drifted on to Prachuap Khiri Khan. (Photos courtesy of the 1st Naval Area Command and Noppadon Thintaeb)

The large amount of garbage spotted in the seas off Chumphon province by a trawler a week ago has drifted up to Prachuap Khiri Khan, about 100 kilometres from where it was first found, the Royal Thai Navy said on Thursday.

Noppadon Thintaeb and other trawler crew members saw the garbage, which was 10 kilometres long, about 40 nautical miles off Pathiu district of Chumphon last Thursday while catching fish.

Mr Noppadon took four photos before his phone’s battery ran out. When he returned to shore on Monday, he posted the photos on his Facebook page along with a message that read, “The Gulf of Thailand is filled up with garbage from sloppy people.” 

The photos went viral and sparked calls from the public for authorities to quickly deal with the situation and investigate the origin of the massive trash pile. Mr Noppadon told local media later that most of the floating garbage was not very biodegradable, such as plastic bags.

“I’ve never seen such a massive amount of garbage in the sea before,” he told Channel 7 on Tuesday. 

Four days after the “sea of trash” photos were published online, a navy aircraft was sent from the 1st Naval Area Command-operated airport in Chumphon at the request of provincial authorities to conduct an aerial search of the sea off Chumphon and nearby areas to establish the coordinates of the floating garbage and plan the clean-up operation. 

V-Adm Sursak Methayapa, commander of the 1st Naval Area Command, said the survey found the rubbish was now about eight nautical miles off Bang Saphan district, Prachuap Khiri Khan and only four nautical miles off Talu island. The island, locally known as Koh Talu, is a popular shallow diving spot in the Gulf of Thailand.

Chumphon governor Narong Ponla-iad said the clean-up would initially focus on scooping up the garbage on the surface now that the coordinates of the site were known. 

Divers and marine conservationists would take charge of eliminating the trash below the surface. The work would involve manpower and resources from the provinces and numerous agencies including the navy, the Department of Fisheries, marine police and rescue units. 

"The origin of the garbage will be investigated to come up with a long-term solution to the problem,” Mr Narong said.


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