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Samet Island

Samet tourist association sues PTTGC for Bt1 billion

Also wants court to order firm to draw up plans to rehabilitate area

A TOURISM association on Koh Samet has slapped PTT Global Chemical with a Bt1-billion lawsuit for damages its oil leak caused to the island.

About 50,000 litres of the PTT subsidiary's oil leaked into the sea off Rayong province on July 27 last year.

The incident caused not just environmental damage but also had a serious economic impact on local tourism operators.

"The oil leak is a result of the firm's recklessness," Sujaree Jarernphon said yesterday in her capacity as the vice president of the Mu Koh Samet Tourism Association, which has more than 70 members.

It accused PTTGC of violating environmental laws and is demanding that the firm be made to pay Bt1 billion in compensation.

It also asked the court to order the defendant to draw up short-term and long-term plans to eliminate contaminants from the environment.

The Civil Court, which received the complaint yesterday, will hold a hearing on September 22 to look into the case.

Sujaree said her association had decided to take the matter to court after several rounds of negotiations with PTT representatives failed to deliver any satisfactory results.

"Our members have therefore resolved to sue for compensation so that money is made available to tackle problems that the oil leak has left behind," she said.



'Inefficient operations'

According to the affidavit, oil-recovery operations after the leak occurred proved untimely and inefficient, which led to the oil spill reaching Samet Island's Ao Phrao (Phrao Bay) on July 29 last year.

The spill forced Ao Phrao to close to the public for months.

Even after it reopened, the number of tourists had dropped by half. Hotels, resorts, shops, public vehicles and shops have borne the brunt.

The association claimed that it heard from academics that the oil spill must have caused damages of well over Bt1 billion, while environmental recovery would likely take about 10 years.

"Even though the local beach has been cleaned up, ecological recovery must continue," the association insisted.




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