Emergency centre to close as slick dissipates
700 affected locals complain about spill
RAYONG: Authorities will close an emergency centre after oil sludge was cleared from Mae Ramphueng Beach and the sea off the beachfront of this eastern province.
A committee of state agencies, tourism operators, beach vendors, and environmental groups will be set up to inspect the area and assess the situation when the tide is on the ebb to ensure there is no more oil.
All going well, the emergency centre overseeing the clean-up operation will then be closed.
The leak from the pipeline owned by Star Petroleum Refining Plc, which was first detected last Tuesday, polluted Mae Ramphueng Beach on mainland Rayong.
Provincial authorities and various agencies such as the 1st Naval Area command removed the slick.
However, authorities will continue to be on standby to monitor any oil that may be lingering.
Thawat Jenkarn, head of the Khao Laem Ya-Koh Samet Marine National Park, said divers sent to examine Prao Bay and the marine national park found that seagrass, coral reef and marine life were safe from the oil.
Rear Adm Apichart Woraphamorn, the Royal Thai Navy's deputy spokesman, said about 80,000 litres of dispersants were approved for the clean-up operation.
No sludge was found on the shoreline, though the oil which was broken down by the dispersants into small droplets may linger on the sea's surface and be washed ashore, said Rear Adm Apichart.
Sunthorn Rianphumkarnkit, Rayong's public health doctor, said health officials have made a random inspection of seafood at several markets in Rayong and no oil contamination was found.
Deputy Rayong governor Anant Nakniyom on Wednesday met with those residents affected by the oil slick at a complaints centre that had been set up near the beach.
About 700 people have filed complaints seeking help and more are expected, Mr Anant said.
Some 30 local fishermen from Petra Beach in tambon Ban Phae in Rayong's Muang district on Wednesday handed a letter of complaint to Ban Phae Mayor Pairat Arunwessaset seeking compensation for damage caused by the slick.
A fisherman only identified as Jongkol said they are unregistered traditional fishermen using boats without engines.
They are concerned they may not be entitled to assistance, Mr Jongkol said, adding the mayor will find ways to help them.
They were ordered to suspend fishing for 30 days after the slick spread.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, said efforts are being made to restore the environment.