Star gets approval to seal crude oil leak

Star gets approval to seal crude oil leak

Phuriphat: Must listen to experts
Phuriphat: Must listen to experts

The Marine Department has given a green light to Star Petroleum Refining Plc (SPRC) sealing a second spot on its underwater pipeline that leaked crude oil into the sea in Rayong province.

The Council of Engineers Thailand, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Engineering Institute of Thailand and officials from various agencies, such as the Pollution Control Department and Map Ta Phut police, on Sunday took part in a remote meeting, chaired by the Marine Department deputy director-general Phuriphat Thirakunphisut, to discuss the plan.

The SRPC on Saturday asked the department for the permission to seal the leak, after its safety system manager Pongkorn Chochuwong said that about 12,000 litres of crude oil still remained in the pipeline.

The first spot was already sealed following the accident. Mr Phuriphat said the company must strictly comply with guidance from experts and submit an operational plan to the Rayong branch of Marine Office today before 10am. As part of the operation to seal the leaking pipeline, the SRPC has put forward a proposal to wrap the remaining underwater section with three layers of special adhesive tape ahead of it being brought ashore for a police check.

Aside from wrapping the leak in the broken pipeline, the SRPC also presented a plan to inject sealant on the ball valve to facilitate the removal of the remainder of the oil during the operation.

Counter-measures to prevent any further leakage involve an underseas tent being positioned over the broken pipeline to catch any further leaks that may arise as a result of the salvage operation, and an aerial surveillance reconnaissance unit, including drones and helicopters, which will be sent out to oversee the mission.

All operations including the removal of any remaining oil will be overseen by foreign experts as well as the oil pipeline manufacturer. State agencies, such as the Royal Thai Navy and Marine Department, will support the operation to assure safety.

The first leak occurred on Jan 25, releasing some 47,000 litres of crude oil into the sea near Map Ta Phut, before another 5,000 litres was spilled on Feb 10 while the firm was trying to remove the rest of the oil on the undamaged route.

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