Rayong seafood 'safe to eat', says ministry

Rayong seafood 'safe to eat', says ministry

The Ministry of Public Health yesterday assured the public that seafood taken from the sea in Rayong is safe to eat because a recent oil spill in the area has been cleaned up.

Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha yesterday addressed people concerned about food safety following the spill.

He was speaking during a public relations event in which he ate dishes made from ingredients taken from the province's sea.

He was joined by Department of Medical Sciences and Department of Health officials as well as Anan Nakniyom, the deputy provincial governor.

During his address, Mr Sathit said 150 seafood samples were tested to determine lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, organic arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons residues.

Results showed they contained safe levels of these chemical compounds.

He said the ministry will carry on collecting seafood samples and testing them to ensure that consumers are safe when eating seafood from Rayong.

The navy yesterday ended its clean-up operation of the oil leak that began on Jan 25 from an underseas pipeline belonging to Star Petroleum Refining Public Company Limited (SPRC), near Map Ta Phut in Rayong.

Robert Joseph Dobrik, director and CEO of SPRC, apologised on behalf of the company to all parties affected by the oil spill.

In separate remarks by SPRC, the company had said about 47,000 litres of crude oil had leaked from the pipeline.

The company vowed to take full responsibility for the spill and carry out a formal investigation to discover what caused the leak, claiming such scrutiny will be useful in the prevention of future incidents.

SPRC said it would cooperate with state agencies looking into the oil spill incident and would offer compensation to all parties affected.

The company would also work with external experts and government agencies to fully assess any other possible environmental impacts of the spill and support the rehabilitation process.

Phuriphat Thirakunphisut, deputy director-general of the Marine Department, said his office has been working with various agencies, including the navy and the Pollution Control Department, to handle the oil spill.

As for rehabilitating the envi- ronment, a sub-committee will assess the costs of previous oil slick clean-up efforts conducted by various public and private organisations and likewise assess damage to coastal areas caused by the leak, he said.

Atthapol Charoenshunsa, direc- tor-general of the Pollution Control Department, said the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) is conducting laboratory analysis of black powder and dark-brown jelly substances collected from beaches and seabeds near where the recent spill happened.

He said the substances are believed to be droplets of oil that had been broken down by dispersants in the clean-up operation.

The DMCR now needs to determine whether they contain toxic chemicals, he said.

Large amounts of sand, water and other materials tainted by the oil spill off the coast of Rayong province have been collected and are now stored at SPRC's refinery ahead of transport to Saraburi for disposal, he said.

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