While I can’t use this information in the Smiling Hill newsletter (because a large part of our audience is in the oil and gas industry and they don’t want to publicize oil spills), I thought this was worth posting here – if for no other reason than to show that these incidents occur around the globe.
From the Jakarta Post:
Workers in white suits used buckets to scoop up globs of crude oil blackening the once white sands and emerald waters of a tourist island in Thailand’s eastern sea on Tuesday, as the oil slick continued to spread three days after leaking from a nearby pipeline.
Progress was being made on cleaning the oil that washed into Prao Bay on the west coast of Samet Island on Sunday night, though not fast enough, and rough seas and strong winds spread thin films of dispersed oil to a rocky bay farther north, said Rayong deputy governor Supeepat Chongpanish.
“The most urgent issue is to get rid of the oil from the bay as soon as possible,” Supeepat said in a telephone interview. “The longer it stays on, the worse effect it will have on the people and environment.”
Provincial authorities have declared Prao Bay a disaster zone, but said that more popular beaches on the island’s east coast remain untouched. There is concern, however, that if not contained soon the slick could spread to beaches across the island and on the nearby mainland.
Authorities said it would take some time to assess the environmental damage.
About 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of oil — about the amount contained in one and a half tanker trucks — spilled into the Gulf of Thailand off Rayong province on Saturday morning from a leak in a pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical Plc., a subsidiary of state-owned oil and gas company PTT Plc.
The company said it detected a leak when crude oil from a tanker moored offshore was being transferred to the pipeline, 20 kilometers (11 miles) from a refinery in Map Ta Phut, one of the largest industrial estates in Southeast Asia. The leak has since been fixed.
The slick floated in the sea for more than a day before it began washing ashore on Samet Island, a small resort island that each year draws some 1 million foreign and domestic tourists due to its white sand beaches and its proximity to Bangkok, 140 kilometers (90 miles) away.
PTTGC apologized on Monday and said the cleanup will likely be completed within three days. That appeared to be wishful thinking, however, and the contaminated beach looked much the same Tuesday, when rain storms briefly interrupted cleanup operations.
“From what I can see it’s still a long way to go,” said Suthi Atchasai, an environmental activist, who was helping with the efforts to clean the bay. “Oil slicks, although reduced, are still on the beach and in the water.”
He said about 1,500 soldiers, workers and volunteers were on the beach Tuesday.
Tourists have checked out from the three resorts on Prao Bay, with some moving to other beaches on the island.