CNY visitors steer clear of Rayong after oil spill
More than 500 people have over the past three days lodged complaints with the government over the impact of pollution from a burst undersea oil pipe off the coast of Rayong after 40% of hotel and resort bookings in the area were cancelled.
The Interior Ministry's Damrongtham Centre set up an ad-hoc complaint point on Mae Ramphueng Beach, a popular tourist destination which was severely affected by oil being washed ashore, a source said yesterday.
Piyada Khwanha, president of Rayong's restaurant operators, said all bookings for this week have been cancelled due to fears that local produce might have been contaminated, particularly seafood.
Wilailak Phonsiri, a 50-year-old vendor who sells hammocks and swimming rings by the beach, complained that she had invested a great deal in stock ahead of what she had hoped would be a busy Chinese New Year festival, but it had been a damp squib.
Asst Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat of Kasetsart University's Faculty of Fisheries, meanwhile, said although the level of oil has now subsided, he hoped that inclement weather bringing swirling winds and powerful current would not sweep the slick back towards the shore.
The Facebook page of the navy's centre for prevention and eradication of water pollution, meanwhile, provided a summary of efforts to protect the beach and break up the oil slick, and confirmed that there were no visible signs of an oil spill in pictures taken by the navy and the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda) of the area.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said beaches on Koh Samet also remain free from any kind of oil influx.
"No sign of the oil had been detected on Ao Phrao or other beaches on the island facing the eastern province mainland," he said.
Sarinthip Thapmongkolsap, president of Koh Samet's tourism association in Rayong, meanwhile, said although there were no signs of oil stains being washed ashore on any parts of Koh Samet so far, more than 4,000 hotel and resort rooms have been cancelled over fears of unforeseen impacts from the spill on the popular island.
Watchara Sarason, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Rayong office, said about 40% of hotel and resort bookings in Mae Ramphueng have been cancelled over the past two to three days.
Crude oil leaked from an undersea crude oil pipeline owned by Star Petroleum Refining Plc on the night of Jan 25. The leak occurred at a mooring about 20 kilometres off the mainland.
The refining company has so far revealed that somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 litres of oil leaked into the sea.