RAYONG: Hundreds of workers set up oil barriers along beachfronts in this eastern province on Friday as authorities raced to limit the environmental damage from oil that leaked from an underwater pipeline earlier this week.
The leak from a pipeline owned by Star Petroleum Refining Plc (SPRC) started late on Tuesday and was brought under control a day later after spilling an estimated 50,000 litres of oil into the ocean 20 kilometres off the coast.
A 47-square-kilometre area of the sea has been affected and an oil slick was drifting close to Rayong’s coastline on Friday, a satellite image from the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) showed.
The navy, which is working to contain the spill at sea, said it may take over a month to restore the beach areas affected. It had said earlier that a cleanup could take five days.
SPRC workers on Friday unfurled long inflatable oil boom barriers near the tide line, designed to try and keep the slick from spoiling the beaches. Authorities have previously warned the spill could affect Khao Lam Ya National Park, home to exotic coral reefs and sealife.
The government has filed an official complaint to seek compensation for the damages the oil spill has caused, Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Ratanasate told reporters on Friday.
In 2013, an oil spill from another undersea pipeline blackened beaches in Rayong and caused environmental damage that took months to restore, hurting fishing and local tourism.