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The Royal Thai Navy is racing to prevent, 400,000 litres of crude oil that leaked from an undersea pipeline offshore of Rayong province in Thailand, from hitting the shoreline and devastating the beaches.
A spokesperson for the Marine and Coastal Resources Department told CTN News Thursday that Star Petroleum Refining Public Company Limited informed the department of the oil leak on Tuesday night.
The Spokesperson said cleanup efforts are being made to stop the spilt crude oil from flowing north and hitting the tourists beaches in Rayong.
An oil slick with a volume of approximately 180,000-200,000 litres is heading for the shoreline between Mae Ramphueng beach and the Khao Laem Ya–Mu Ko Samet National Marine Park.
The spokesperson said unless halted, it was likely the crude oil would reach there by Friday.
The Marine and Coastal Resources Department, the Royal Thai Navy and other agencies had been notified of the problem and steps were being taken to resolve it.
A Star Petroleum spokesperson said the leak occurred at a single-point mooring (SPM) area in the middle of the sea for tankers to load or offload crude oil.
Using safety procedures, the company’s emergency response team took action. All nearby activities were halted.
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, the crude oil leak was sealed and dispersants were sprayed on the oil spill. Company oil spill response teams are continuing to assess the situation.
Thai-MECC and the Environmental Monitoring and Control Centre (EMCC) were also notified of the incident, Star Petroleum said in the statement.
In addition to boats and manpower, the government and private agencies provided the company with the necessary equipment to combat the spill.
Fuel tank sinks in the Gulf of Thailand
The crude oil spill in Rayong comes days after a fuel tanker carrying 500,000 litres of diesel fuel capsized in the Gulf of Thailand.
On Monday, Navy spokesman Vice Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin said four warships will assist with oil spill cleanup and salvage of the sunken vessel.
While anchored in the Gulf to provide fuel to trawlers, Por Andaman 2, carrying 500,000 litres of diesel oil, began to sink about 24 nautical miles from the Chumphon estuary.
A nearby vessel rescued the captain and five crew members after the tanker sank at about 7.15 pm on Saturday in 50 metres of water. Vessels in the vicinity have been warned to steer clear of the wreck site and the Royal Thai Navy’s clean-up operation.
As a result of the accident, the ship’s owner, Thai Laemthong Fishery Oil Trade Co Ltd, has been ordered to cease all operations. According to the Navy, the clean-up process will take seven days, whereas the salvage operation could take 15 days.
By Geoff Thomas