Oil spill threatens corals on Thai resort island

Bangkok, Jan 31 (EFE).- An oil spill caused by a leak from a marine buoy used to store crude in southeastern Thailand threatens to contaminate some corals on popular resort island of Samet, an expert marine biologist warned Monday.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat said on Facebook that the spill was close to the Prao beach, where corals could die and turn white in 24 hours if contaminated by the oil.

Photos taken by the locals and circulated on social media show the oil slick might have affected the animals, including a dolphin and turtles.

Chevron-owned Star Petroleum Refining, responsible for the spill, said Sunday it was continuing to clean up the oil, which had ended up on Mae Ramphueng beach in Rayong province, a popular local tourist destination.

Authorities have declared the beach a disaster area and asked people not to go near the place where cleanup operations are underway.

A leak on Jan.25 in a pipeline from a marine storage buoy about 20 km (12 miles) off the coast of Rayong province caused a spill of between 20 and 50 tons.

Star Petroleum Refining has said it managed to reduce the spill to about 5 tons.

The company and several government agencies are taking part in the cleanup operation as the spill has caused a 45 sq km (17 square miles) oil slick.

In 2013, the island of Samed, part of the Rayong province, was affected by a 50-ton oil spill by a pipeline of the state-owned PTT company. EFE


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