A major oil spill on Sunday, July 28, coated Ao Phrao Beach on the popular tourist island of Koh Samet in Thailand. Authorities estimate that around 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of crude oil was leaked from an offshore pipeline belonging to PTT Global Chemical, Thailand’s largest petrochemical producer, and 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) have washed onto the island.
Tourists desert the popular island as authorities try to contain the spill, with fears it may even reach the mainland. Resort operators had to inform house guests and those newly arriving about the spill because the normally spectacular beaches and water were unapproachable.
“Some guests have made early checkouts after the spill hit our beach, but some decided to stay. We have to assess the situation on the daily basis,” said Banphot Wigul, assistant front office manager of the Lima Coco Resort. “However, out of 31 rooms we have, 20 of them remain occupied as we speak.”
Progress has been made on cleaning the oil that washed into Prao Bay, but rough seas and strong winds spread thin films of oil to a rocky bay farther north. PTT Global Chemical, Thailand’s largest petrochemical producer, admitted a leak had occurred after the waters at Ao Phrao (Phrao Bay) on the popular tourist island of Koh Samet were blackened with oil on Sunday, prompting evacuations of tourists CNN reports.
Marine and Coastal Resources provincial director Puchong Saritdeechaikul said his team detected a clear oil sheen that had spread to smaller isles off Samet’s eastern shore.