RAYONG – Province Officials hosted a “Big Cleaning Day” yesterday at Ao Phrao – the beach on Koh Samet hit by the recent oil leak, while Deputy Premier Plodprasop Suraswadi and PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) bosses presented some 400 small-scale fishermen affected by the spill with Bt30,000 compensation per head.
Plodprasop urged the firm to take special care of Samet, possibly by setting up a fund to promote its environment and tourism on the island, while also preventing any reoccurrence of the spill.
Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment Vichet Kasemthongsri presided over a rite at 8am to seek a blessing and apologise to supernatural beings at the island’s Laungpu Dam and Chaomae Tabtim shrines.
He then launched and took part in the “Big Cleaning Day” activity at 11am to ensure for the last time that the beach is free from oil before it re-opens for visitors.
Many volunteers from the local area, various agencies and organisations, and students were involved in this.
Meanwhile, some 300 owners of souvenir shops at Nuantip Pier in Phe, on the mainland, lamented at the lack of tourists caused by the disaster. They urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to visit the pier market and Samet to hear their woes and help bring tourists back.
Later, at 10.30am, 14 tour buses from Lak Si in Bangkok, stopped at the pier market to buy seafood.
A tour member, who asked not to be named, said a Pheu Thai Party MP from Bangkok led Lak Si residents to visit resorts at Klaeng district and Koh Samet’s Ao Phrao.
He suggested PTTGC should have boats to skim oil from the water and buoys surrounding the petroleum pipe area to prevent any future oil leaks.
About 50 tonnes of oil spilled into the sea off Rayong province on Saturday July 27 from a leak in the pipeline operated by PTTGC. The oil slick reached Ao Phrao the next day.
Samet, which is about 150km southeast of Bangkok, is a popular weekend getaway for Thais and foreigners living in the capital.
Rayong provincial centre said that as of Friday some 1,127 people had registered with the authority as being affected by the oil spill. This includes 410 fishermen, 606 hotel and restaurant operators, a health business operator and 110 business people. The registration of ‘victims’ will continue till August 31. – Nation